THE SNP has accused Alister Jack of “hypocrisy” as he prepares to host a showcase of Scotland’s best produce, despite almost half of the party’s MPs agreeing to attend.

The Secretary of State for Scotland will put on the Taste of Scotland event at Dover House this afternoon, joined by famous brands such as Tunnocks, AG Barr, Walkers, Macsween Haggis and Harris Tweed.

The annual event aims to show off Scottish produce to diplomats from across the globe as well as politicians and business leaders.

The Herald understands that around 22 of the SNP’s 45 MPs have said they would be attending the event.

However the SNP MSP Jim Fairlie has accused Mr Jack of failing to help the Scottish food and drink sector deal with workforce issues, which he claims are Brexit-related.

He said Mr Jack and his Tory colleagues “are all too happy to glad-hand at events like this while doing absolutely nothing to address the very real hardships their Brexit has caused to our food and hospitality sectors.”

He also added that Mr Jack should “use the platform of this event to outline exactly how he will personally intervene to address the critical labour shortages”, adding: “It is staggering the Tory UK Government admits Brexit has created this problem but will do absolutely nothing to put it right.

“Instead, they arrogantly expect businesses to fix the mess they made.
“Once again we see the Tories happily throwing businesses under their Brexit bus by refusing to change their hostile immigration policy.”

Sources within the Scotland Office have hit back at the criticisms, and said the SNP should be supporting the event.

It is understood more than 20 SNP MPs have registered to attend the session this afternoon, with events in previous years taking part with cross-party support.

A Scotland Office source said: "This is an insult to the 18 leading Scottish producers who are proud to showcase their excellent wares at Taste of Scotland.

"It is beyond belief that an SNP spokesperson is attacking an event that promotes the finest Scottish produce to scores of senior diplomats from around the world and to parliamentarians from throughout the UK. 

"The SNP should be getting behind the UK Government's new export strategy – aimed at increasing our global trade to £1trillion – and they should support Taste of Scotland as their MPs have done in the past."

A UK Government spokeswoman also added: “The annual ‘Taste of Scotland’ event showcases Scotland’s outstanding food and drink companies to an influential audience of global diplomats and UK parliamentarians, promoting Scottish exports abroad.
“As the UK Government continues to strike progressive new trade deals, our newly-published Export Strategy will further help Scottish companies take advantage of exciting opportunities opening up right across the world.”