The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has congratulated Rishi Sunak on becoming the UK’s next prime minister. Sunak won the race to lead the Conservative party earlier today, after Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the running. 

Mark Kent, chief executive of the SWA, said Sunak supported the economy through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We now need a similar level of focus on the UK economy to weather the inflationary storm,” he added.

“The Scotch whisky industry faces rising energy costs, supply chain pressures and fragile consumer confidence. The reversal of the freeze on alcohol duty further dented industry confidence, and we call on the new prime minister to work with the chancellor to reinstate the duty freeze at next week’s fiscal event.”

He said the SWA also wants to work with the new prime minister to grow Scotch whisky exports, including “through a trade deal with India which reduces the current 150% tariff on Scotch whisky”.

“This is a challenging time but, with the right support from government, the Scotch whisky industry stands ready to work with the new administration to continue to deliver much needed economic growth,” added Kent.

Sunak takes over from Liz Truss, who announced her resignation last week after just 45 days in office. 

Last week, the SWA joined forces with the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and the British Beer and Pub Association to call on chancellor Jeremy Hunt to cancel tax hikes on alcoholic drinks.