A future Labor Government will prioritize the permanent scrapping of Donald Trump’s punitive tariffs on the “crown jewel” Scotch whiskey industry.
Lisa Nandy, a senior shadow cabinet member, said a Keir Starmer Government would not “pander” to a US president like the Tories had done.
She also said the importance of the UK was about delivering for every part of the country, rather than just reflecting on the “glory days”.
Trump was blasted in 2019 for slapping a 25% tariff on single malt as part of a wider trade dispute.
President Biden’s team suspended the trade barriers for five years, but the prospect of the tariffs remaining after that point cannot be discounted.
In an interview Nandy, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for leveling up, said she recalled a meeting she and Starmer had with the former Trump administration:
“When Keir I met with Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State, it was quite a meeting, I can tell you.
“Keir and he are, let’s just say, yin and yang. There was not a lot of common ground there.
“But the first thing that we raised with the Secretary of State when he was over in the UK, was the appalling tariffs that the Trump administration had imposed on the Scotch whiskey industry.
“This is a crown jewel of the British industry.
“And if the UK Government cannot be trusted to go out and defend that industry, to celebrate that industry, and to take on those who seek to do it harm, I can understand why people would turn around and say, ‘well, what is the point of the United Kingdom’?”
The Wigan MP said scrapping the tariffs, rather than simply suspending them, would be the policy of a Labor Government
“Yeah, absolutely. You wouldn’t see a Labor Government pandering to a US president who is harming British industry, wherever that industry happens to be found in the country, whether it’s Scotland, Wales, or parts of England.”
On leveling up, which is Boris Johnson’s plan for raising living standards across the UK, Nandy said:
“I think it’s a crying shame that it’s become seen as an England approach, as a consequence of the way that this government has handled it.”
She said: “This was just very much seen as a clever election slogan and a clever way to try to funnel money into seats that the Tories wanted to target at the next general election.”
Nandy said Labor would ensure leveling up is seen as a policy benefiting Scotland:
“The key is to get good jobs back into communities that have seen them lost for decades.
“For four decades we’ve seen coastal and industrial towns that once powered the world, that built this country’s wealth and influence, see those good jobs depart and with them go the young people and the spending power that comes with good skilled work and a working age population.
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“You’ve got lots of people now, watching their hometowns fall apart, lots of older people living hundreds of miles away from children and grandchildren, watching the high street fall apart, the canceled bus networks and post offices and banks, all of that has been turbocharged over the last decade.”
She added: “Our message to the people of Scotland is wherever you live, in every community, in every part of this country, if you care about it, we care about it.”
Criticisms have been made about the Tory Government using leveling up cash to fund Scottish councils directly – an area returned to Holyrood.
Nandy said she would be relaxed about this practice continuing under Labour: “I would, but I would also be quite relaxed about the prospect of working closely with a returned administration, whoever that government happened to be in order to deliver for people.”
With the SNP dominating Scottish politics, and Nicola Sturgeon calling for a second referendum, Nandy said the case for the UK has to be based on a positive vision of change.
“The point of the United Kingdom is not just some idealistic ‘harking back to the glory days’,” she said.
“The importance of the United Kingdom is what we can deliver and what we can achieve together and if the system isn’t working for people in every part of this country, we’ve got to change that system.”
Nandy stood for the leadership in 2020 and lost to Starmer. She insists he would be a “feminist” Prime Minister, but regrets the fact every Labor leader has been a man.
Asked if it is an embarrassment for Labor that they’ve never had a female leader, she said:
“I think that’s undeniably true. We’re a party that believes in equality. It’s existential for us. We believe that we should be building a world free from discrimination. And yet here we are in 2022 and have never managed to achieve a woman leader.”
She is also scathing about the family-unfriendly ways of Westminster: “Last Monday night, I was carrying [fellow MP] Stella Creasy’s baby around the division lobbies at half past one in the morning. This is just surely a nonsense.”
Nandy used to be a shadow foreign secretary and she takes a zero tolerance approach to colleagues who appear to criticize NATO more than Russia over the Putin regime’s invasion of Ukraine.
Asked about Labor MPs who attend events by the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ in support of this organisation, she said:
“I think that Labor MPs who break the whip on this issue should be suspended. They stand with Putin.”
She continued: “We had fairly tough and decisive action from the leadership a few weeks ago where there was a Stop the War organized letter, which parroted many of the lines that are being pumped out by Putin and the Russian state’s propaganda unit.
“That is unacceptable. Keir Starmer said so. Those MPs were told to take their names off it or they would lose the whip. I think that was exactly the right decision.”
She said: “If you want to govern this country, you have to believe in it and you have to be prepared to go out and defend it. That’s what Labor will do and those who don’t subscribe to that have no place in the Labor party.”
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