While out on the General Election campaign trail, SNP Calum Kerr highlighted the impact that Brexit could have on the food and drinks sector.
Mr Kerr was accompanied by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing during a visit to Tempest Brewery at Tweedbank, a local company that sends 89 per cent of its exports to the European Single Market.
Mr Kerr said: “This is the frontline of the Brexit debate. However the Tories try to spin it, trading into the single market from outside means tariffs, and it means customs checks: these are barriers to which food and drink exports are particularly vulnerable.
“The choice that we will face on June 8, is between the economic vandalism of a reckless Tory government, or strong SNP MPs from Scotland, committed to maintaining membership of the European Single Market.”
Annika Meiklejohn, the brewery’s director, explained the importance of single market membership to Tempest: “Italy, in particular, is a major destination for our beers. They recognise provenance and quality of our product.
“Currently, the process of getting the beer there is frictionless. This means that Brexit could be an absolute nightmare for us.”
The food and drink sector accounts for 360,000 jobs in Scotland, with a strong footprint in rural Scotland, and Mr Kerr warned: “A hard Brexit will impede the phenomenal success of the small businesses that currently drive the export-led economic powerhouse that is Scotland’s food and drink industry.”