A brand-new scare story raised its head this week, coming in from the blind side and catching the voting public unawares with the news that Westminster has decreed that independence would see Scotland struggle to sell its food and drink products abroad.
During a visit north of the border, Owen Paterson (the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), claimed that Scottish exporters gained massive advantages from the UK government’s “clout” in markets such as China and Russia. He said an independent Scotland would struggle in comparison.
“What I see time and again after the success of the Olympics last year, the Royal Wedding and the Jubilee, is that there’s a real interest in British products… There’s a real positive for great Scottish firms like Walkers and those in the Scotch whisky industry in using the British government.
The UK is the sixth biggest economy in the world and we have real clout. When we asked that our whisky is treated fairly and ask hugely important governments in very important potential markets like China and Russia to look at counterfeiting or geographical indicators, that is to the massive advantage of that industry.
How people vote in the referendum is down to them, but I would make a very strong case that there’s a clear advantage for Scottish farmers and manufacturers to stay within the UK.”
But the minister’s assertions fall apart under scrutiny.
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