Sales from Scotland to the rest of the UK are worth nearly £50 billion, a figure that has increased by over 70% since 2002 and that is four times greater than the value of exports from Scotland to the EU. There is no doubt that the United Kingdom is the vital Union for Scotland’s economy.
Given that Scottish whisky is the largest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade and goods, is the Secretary of State encouraged by the fact that if we move from the single market to World Trade Organisation arrangements, Scottish whisky will have a zero tariff?
It is important to note that there is a zero tariff for Scotch whisky under WTO rules. As to our future relationship with the EU, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear that we want to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, which would be enormously to the benefit of the Scotch whisky industry.
All this UK single market business is quite interesting, but is the Secretary of State trying to suggest that a Brexitised isolated UK, desperate for friends and any trading partners, would not trade with an independent Scotland?
It is vital that both the UK and the Scottish Governments work together to maximise the number of jobs created, but it is clear that the one thing the Scottish Government could do to help job creation in Scotland most is take the suggestion of a divisive independence referendum off the table.
I also made it clear to that Committee that it was not appropriate to give a running commentary on the Government’s internal discussions on Brexit. What I am committed to do is delivering the best possible deal for Scotland in these Brexit negotiations.