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Budget Resolutions - Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:56 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 6:56 pm, 13th March 2017

What I certainly believe is that a free trade deal with the United States and free trade deals for this country would be of profound benefit to the whole of the United Kingdom.

Since the hon. Gentleman has interrupted me, let me remind him that today is Commonwealth day, which provides an opportunity for us all to celebrate that remarkable institution which embraces one third of humanity and now includes some of the fastest-growing economies in the world—a free association of 52 countries, spread across every continent and dedicated to advancing the values that we share. I am proud to say that Britain will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit next year. Although we may not be able to sign free trade deals with our Commonwealth friends now, we can see them in outline and taking shape. Let me say this to our friends from the Scottish nationalist party, who seem so determined to wrench themselves out of the UK, even though they had a decisive referendum on the matter, as Members will recall, only a couple of years ago: never mind haggis; Scotch whisky exports to the Indian whisky market, a potentially huge market—the Indian thirst for whisky is colossal—account for only 4% of Indian whisky consumption. That is because at the moment, without a free trade deal, the Indian Government impose a 150% tariff on Scotch whisky.

Imagine a free trade deal that lifted the exports of Scotch to India by only a few per cent.—to, say, 6% or 10%. Dare to dream that Scotch whisky, which everyone in the House would concede is the original and authentic whisky, were slaking just 15% of that gigantic Indian thirst for whisky. We would be talking about an increase in profits for the Scotch whisky industry, for this country and, above all, for Scotland every year running into hundreds of millions of pounds. That means jobs, growth and investment for Scotland. It means the prosperity that comes with having a truly global outlook, which unfortunately Members on the Opposition Benches signally seem to lack.