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Leaving the EU: Economic Opportunities

Volume 635: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2018

8. What recent discussions he has had with businesses in Scotland on the economic opportunities available to them after the UK leaves the EU. (903405)

It is always a pleasure to speak to Scottish businesses. In fact, there have been more than 100 such conversations in the past year in my Department. I look forward to meeting many more businesses this Friday, when I travel to Aberdeen as the Government’s oil and gas champion, including a visit to the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, which benefited from £180 million as part of the Aberdeen city deal in 2016.

As Corby is the most Scottish town in England, I am well aware that Scotland produces some of the UK’s best-known products, including Scotch whisky. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to ensure that, as we leave the European Union, new opportunities are taken, for the benefit of the whole of the United Kingdom economy?

I am told that Corby is a great place in England to buy an Irn-Bru and a pie. As we know, whisky is one of the UK’s greatest exports. Forty thousand people are employed in the industry, and the value of exports is more than £4 billion. It absolutely stands to benefit from post-Brexit trade opportunities. Both our industrial strategy and—[Interruption.]

Order. This is rather discourteous. The Minister is giving us a detailed answer, which I think the House should hear.

I am sure whisky drinkers everywhere will be grateful for that intervention, Mr Speaker.

The industrial strategy sets out other opportunities with industries across the UK to grow their productivity, improve their exports and create high-value jobs. I am pleased to say we are working closely with the Scottish Government to implement the strategy.

To mitigate the extreme hard Tory Brexit and create further job opportunities in Scotland, will the Minister commit to speaking to onshore wind developers and allowing them to bid in future contract for difference auctions?

As the hon. Gentleman knows from conversations around the Dispatch Box, we are keen to bring forward renewable technology at the right price for bill payers and consumers right across the UK. We will continue to offer opportunities for all sorts of renewable businesses to get involved in CfD auctions going forward.