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Brexit risks Scotch’s protection, says PM

The British Prime Minister David Cameron has appealed to agricultural workers like those in the Scotch whisky industry to vote to remain in the EU, as he warned that leaving could risk the product’s protected status.

David Cameron, the British prime minister
David Cameron, the British Prime Minister

In a warning aimed at workers in agricultural industries across the UK, the prime minister – whose government supports Britain remaining in the European Union – said the protected designation of origin (PDO) status for drinks products like Scotch whisky and Gloucester cider could disappear if the public votes to leave in the June 23 referendum.

However, ‘Leave’ supporters argue that it is the latest example of so-called “Project Fear”, the supposed campaign run by ‘In’ backers to scare the public into voting to stay in the EU.

They say that products made outside the EU, such as Mexican Tequila, are protected in Europe, and that products like Scotch whisky could negotiate the same protection if Britain leaves.

In an article published in the Gloucester Citizen, Mr Cameron said the EU currently gives protection to a number of food and drink products made uniquely in areas of the UK – protection that he claims will disappear after a vote to leave on 23 June.

“Protected status enjoyed across Europe by our unique products, such as Gloucestershire cider… will be lost”, he said.

His argument has been backed by the Scotch Whisky Association.

David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, told Scotland’s Herald newspaper: “The EU is a big help in protecting the geographical indication Scotch Whisky.

“The EU sets the rules for the legal protection of Scotch Whisky within Europe and seeks to have it recognised in trade agreements with other countries. This would be put at risk if Britain were to leave the EU.”

In February, the SWA released its official view on the referendum, saying it was backing the ‘Remain’ campaign due the EU’s free trade policy which it said was “central to Scotch whisky’s success”.

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