Scotch has ‘serious issues’ after Brexit

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive David Frost said the £5 billion industry had “serious issues to resolve” now that the UK had voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%.

A third of all UK whisky is consumed in mainland Europe.

The SWA had warned before the referendum that more than £1 billion of Scotch exports could be at risk for an industry that supports 40,000 jobs if the UK voted to leave the EU.

It had warned that outside of the EU, the UK’s Scotch producers “could face bureaucratic barriers when trading with Europe.”

Scotch accounts for almost a quarter of all British food and drink exports.

On Friday, Frost said: “We urge thoughtful and serious consideration by all parties so that we can secure the best possible continued access to the EU and other export markets on which Scotch Whisky’s success has been built, whilst minimising costs and complexity.”

Frost added: “The process of leaving the EU will inevitably generate significant uncertainty.

“Of course, we are confident Scotch Whisky will remain the pre-eminent international spirit drink.

“But equally, there are serious issues to resolve in areas of major importance to our industry and which require urgent attention, notably the nature of future trade arrangements with both the single market and the wider world.

“The government will now need to consult as it prepares its negotiating approach. We look forward to working closely with them on that.”

Meanwhile, Andy Willox, Scottish policy convenor for the Federation of Small Businesses, said decision makers now needed to focus on economic stability.

“Firms in Scotland will look to the Scottish Government, as well as the UK Government and the Bank of England, to provide leadership during this period,” said Willox.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s assurance that the Scottish Government, and the other devolved administrations, will be fully involved in the negotiations associated with the UK’s departure from the EU.

“While questions about a second independence referendum will inevitably dominate the headlines, there are more immediate matters for small firms – from clarity over access to the single market to the free movement of people.”