SNP accused of 'insult' to Scottish producers after food showcase row

The SNP have been accused of insulting Scottish producers after a growing row over a food showcase.

The event showcases the best of Scottish produce such as Irn Bru

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack put on the Taste of Scotland event at Dover House in Westminster on Tuesday.

Aiming to show off Scottish produce to diplomats from all over the world, the showcase was set to include Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin, Laphroaig single malt, oatcakes from Orkney, Loch Fyne smoked salmon, luxury scents from Arran, as well as Tunnocks Tea Cakes and Irn-Bru.

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However, SNP MSP Jim Fairlie has criticised the event, despite almost half of his party’s MPs agreeing to attend.

He said: "Tory hypocrisy knows no bounds. Alister Jack and his Conservative colleagues are all too happy to glad-hand at events like this while doing absolutely nothing to address the very real hardships their Brexit has caused to our food and hospitality sectors.

"If Alister Jack wants to show support for the Scottish food and drink industry, he would use the platform of this event to outline exactly how he will personally intervene to address the critical labour shortages. But I won’t hold my breath.

“It is staggering the Tory UK Government admits Brexit has created this problem, but will do absolutely nothing to put it right. Instead they arrogantly expect businesses to fix the mess they made.

“Once again we see the Tories happily throwing businesses under their Brexit bus by refusing to change their hostile immigration policy.”

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His comments saw a furious response from the Scotland Office, which demanded the SNP do more to support the event.

A Scotland Office source said: "This is an insult to the 18 leading Scottish producers who are proud to showcase their excellent wares at Taste of Scotland.

"It is beyond belief that an SNP spokesperson is attacking an event that promotes the finest Scottish produce to scores of senior diplomats from around the world and to parliamentarians from throughout the UK.

"The SNP should be getting behind the UK Government's new export strategy – aimed at increasing our global trade to £1 trillion – and they should support Taste of Scotland as their MPs have done in the past."

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The annual ‘Taste of Scotland’ event showcases Scotland’s outstanding food and drink companies to an influential audience of global diplomats and UK parliamentarians, promoting Scottish exports abroad.

“As the UK Government continues to strike progressive new trade deals, our newly-published export strategy will further help Scottish companies take advantage of exciting opportunities opening up right across the world.”

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Jack claimed Scotland produces some of the “most popular and iconic food and drink” in the world.

He said: “I’m very much looking forward to meeting the talented businesses at our ‘Taste of Scotland’ event. Coming ahead of St Andrew's Day, it will be a great opportunity to showcase the best of Scotland.

“With our newly published export strategy, the UK Government is equipping Scottish firms with the tools they need to take advantage of new export opportunities opening up around the globe.”