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Conservatives pledge review of alcohol taxation in Speyside

By Jonathan Clark

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson yesterday pledged to review UK alcohol taxation – a move which the Scotch Whisky Association has welcomed.

Speaking at Roseisle distillery during a whistle-stop tour of Moray, Mr Johnson promised the review, which the SWA have long since asked for.

He also admitted it may be that whisky duties are currently too high – before praising local Tory candidate Douglas Ross for securing the review.

Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross at Roseisle Distillery.
Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross at Roseisle Distillery.

Mr Johnson told the Northern Scot: "The latest thing Douglas Ross has achieved is to secure a review by the government of the duties that we exact on Scotch whisky.

"What that will help us achieve is a better understanding on how to sell more Scotch whisky. It may be that our whisky duties are too high. 72 per cent of a litre now goes in tax."

Speaking to the press, he added: "We will have to see in the review, but I would hope we could alleviate the duties on Scotch whisky and sell even more."

However, Richard Lochhead, Moray's SNP MSP, said most distilleries are worried about Brexit, which Boris Johnson is trying to push through.

He Tweeted: "Boris Johnson visits distillery that warned against Brexit? Most whisky companies in Speyside are worried about it."

The SWA were pleased with the pledge, but added "the devil is the detail".

Chief Executive Karen Betts said: "Reform of alcohol duty has been a long term goal of the Scotch Whisky industry and is our number one ask of all political parties in the General Election.

"This announcement is welcome, and opens the door to reforming a broken system in which large inconsistencies between alcohol categories put Scotch Whisky and the wider UK spirits industry at a competitive disadvantage.

"A simplified alcohol duty regime in the UK to better reflect alcohol content would be fairer for consumers, increase competitiveness and, according to robust, independent economic research, remain an important driver of tax revenue to support public services.

"Of course, the devil is in the detail and we look forward to working with HM Treasury officials on our detailed proposals submitted ahead of the budget to ensure we have an alcohol tax system fit for the 21st century."


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