Brexit and withdrawal from the EU poses a “real and present danger” to the global success story of the £14.4bn Scottish food and drink sector, the SNP said at the launch of its manifesto today.
The party claimed the decision to quit Europe posed multiple threats to what it called the “world class” food and drink sector north of the border, with its heavy reliance on EU workers.
The SNP said the loss of freedom of movement of labour had the potential to harm Scotland’s rural economy, with around 8,000 EU nationals working in the food and drink sector and up to 15,000 seasonal migrant workers helping harvest fruit and vegetables in the country.
The party promised to fight to safeguard the rights of EU nationals to stay in the UK.
‘To be taken out, not just of the EU, but also of the single market, poses a real and present danger to Scottish jobs - to our farmers … our food and drink businesses and to almost every sector of our economy,’ said the manifesto. ‘Indeed, it has been estimated that leaving the single market could cost 80,000 jobs in Scotland.’
Other policies in the document include extending the sugary drinks tax to include added-sugar milk drinks, tightening regulation around digital junk food advertising seen by children, and plans for clearer food labelling.
It also called for a further shakeup of alcohol taxation.
‘Given the Scotch whisky industry is a key sector of Scotland’s economy, SNP MPs will continue to advocate a review of alcohol taxation to better reflect alcohol content, while supporting health benefits through minimum unit pricing and alcohol content,’ it said.