SNP MPs speechless as Tories goad them with Chancellor Rishi Sunak's freeze on whisky duty

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered the first annual budget statement of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new government on Wednesday. In his first budget since he replaced Sajid Javid as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Sunak announced he will cancel planned increases in spirits duty to promote Scottish food and drinks overseas. He said: “I’m announcing today, £1 million of support to promote Scottish food and drinks overseas and £10 million of the new RND funding to help distilleries go green.

“And to further support the industry, I can also announce that this year the planned increase in spirits duty will be cancelled.”

As the Chancellor made the astonishing announcement, Tory frontbenchers and Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited SNP MPs across the aisle to celebrate the move. 

But according to reporters in the Chamber, SNP MPs refused to welcome the announcement. 

Christopher Hope of The Daily Telegraph tweeted: "No sip of Scotch at the dispatch box for the Chancellor as Rishi Sunak says whisky duty will not go up this year. Tory MPs goad SNP MPs to welcome it. They don’t."

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The Chancellor also announced the Government’s economic plan to tackle any future economic struggles caused by the outbreak of coronavirus.

As he began his speech, Mr Sunak said: “I want to get straight to the issue most on everyone's mind- coronavirus COVID19. I know how worried people are.

“Worried about their health, the health of their loved ones, their jobs, their income, their businesses, their financial security.

“And I know they get even more worried when they turn on their TVs and hear talk of markets collapsing and recessions coming. People want to know what's happening, and what can be done to fix it.

"I want to set out our economic response so we bring stability and security. Let me say this: We will get through this - together."

He added: “The British people may be worried, but they are not daunted. We will protect our country and our people. We will rise to this challenge.

"The challenge is this: There is likely to be a temporary disruption to our economy. On the supply side, up to a fifth of the working-age population could need to be off work at any one time. And business supply chains are being disrupted around the globe.

“This combination of people being unable to work* *and businesses being unable to access goods* *will mean that for a period our productive capacity will shrink. There will also be an impact on the demand side of the economy, through a reduction in consumer spending.

"The right immediate policy response is to provide security and support for those who get sick or can't work through funding our public services, and a strengthened safety net. And on the supply side, the right response is to provide a bridge for businesses, to ensure that what is a temporary impact on our productive capacity does not become permanent.

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"In other words, our response will be temporary, timely and targeted. This is the right response - and at the right time.

“That response is closely coordinated with the Bank of England.

"The Governor and I have been in constant communication about the evolving situation and our responses have been carefully designed to be complementary and to have maximum impact, consistent with our independent responsibilities.

"Whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with COVID-19 - it will get. So, whether its research for a vaccine, recruiting thousands of returning staff, or supporting our brilliant Doctors and Nurses, whether its millions of pounds or billions of pounds, whatever it needs, whatever it costs, we stand behind our NHS.”

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