SNP ‘bullying’ M&S over Union flag on Scotch

Prime minister Theresa May has fired a shot across the bows of the Scottish Nationalist Party for its apparent ‘bullying’ of Marks & Spencer over the retailer’s decision to label Scotch whisky as a ‘British’ product.

The SNP apparently contacted M&S late last year to inquire why whisky and gin were labelled as ‘British’ products and carried the Union flag while certain other goods including strawberries were marked as being ‘English’.

Scottish rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing and first minister Nicola Sturgeon were also sent an “urgent” briefing that Tesco had made a decision to put a Union flag rather than a Saltire on packets of Scottish strawberries.

According to The Times the SNP received calls and letters from supporters calling on the party to stop what at least one called a, “travesty”.

A spokesman for the SNP told the paper: “We raised concerns with the company in a constructive manner – concerns which were also being expressed by members of the public – exactly as people would expect. Scotland’s food and drink sector is a huge international success story and it’s vital it’s promoted appropriately.”

Ewing said M&S had promised to investigate the matter and suggested there had been an “error”.

Scottish Conservative MP and former M&S employee, Luke Graham, however said that the SNP had no right to “dictate” how a business chose to label its products and called it, “extremely petty and the worst kind of nationalism”.

May raised the issue recently during Prime Minister’s questions, saying it was right to be proud of all ‘Scottish’ or ‘British’ produce but that it was “appalling that the Scottish government did not want to see the Union flag and the word British on produce,” adding that it ran counter to the result of the 2014 referendum in which Scotland chose to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

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