EXCL Theresa May and Ruth Davidson urge Philip Hammond not to hike whisky duty in Budget

Posted On: 
17th November 2017

Theresa May has joined forces with Ruth Davidson to urge Philip Hammond not to hike whisky duty in next week's Budget, PoliticsHome has learned.

Theresa may and Philip Hammond Theresa May has personally lobbied Philip Hammond not to put up duty on spirits.
PA News

Both women have held face-to-face meetings with the Chancellor to tell him whisky drinkers should not be hammered when he announces his tax and spending plans for the year ahead.

Scottish Conservative MPs have also been lobbying Mr Hammond, arguing that a rise in the price of spirits would also damage a vital industry north of the Border.

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The Chancellor increased duty on spirits by 3.9% in his last Budget in March, meaning tax now accounts for nearly 80% of the cost of a bottle of Scotch.

With Mr Hammond facing demands to ease off on austerity, campaigners fear he may be tempted to order another increase as a way of bringing in more cash.

A Cabinet source said: "Both the Prime Minister and Ruth Davidson have personally been in to see the Chancellor urging him not to put up whisky duty again.

"He doesn't seem to realise that when he puts it up, the UK government gets all the flak. Meanwhile, the SNP can claim the credit for spending all the extra money that we give to the Scottish government."

An industry source told PoliticsHome: "We want the Government to stand up for Scotland and stand up for Scotch. The Chancellor knows what our views are, but we are not overly optimistic about what the Budget will contain."

PoilticsHome reported earlier this week how Cabinet ministers fear the Budget will be a "car crash" as Mr Hammond comes under pressure to turn around the Government's fortunes with a voter-friendly spending package.

As well as finding cash to lift the public sector pay cap, Mr Hammond is also preparing to cut stamp duty for first time buyers and come up with millions of pounds to train up construction industry workers to help tackle the housing crisis.

However, the Chancellor is thought to be resisting calls by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid for the Government to borrow some £50bn to fund more housebuilding, with the Treasury apparently concerned it will add too much to the national debt.