Boris Johnson under fire for whisky comments in Sikh temple

18th May, 2017 by Annie Hayes

UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson has been criticised for making remarks about ending tariffs on whisky between the UK and India during a visit to a Sikh gurdwara.

Boris Johnson has come under fire after making remarks about ending tariffs on whisky in a Sikh temple

During a visit to the Shri Guru Nanak Prakash Singh Sabha gurdwara in Bristol, Johnson promised attendees that a future Conservative government would increase free trade and end tariffs on India’s imports of British whisky following Brexit.

According to The Telegraph, worshipper Balbir Kaur called his comments “absolutely outrageous, and said “how dare you talk about alcohol in a Sikh temple?”

The former London mayor was in Bristol campaigning for the 2017 General Election, and visited the temple in an effort to engage with voters from the city’s large Sikh community.

As part of Johnson’s address, he said: “What are the consequences of having so many Sikh relatives, and I hope I am not embarrassing anybody, is that whenever we go to India, to Mumbai or to Delhi, we have to bring ‘clinkie’ in our luggage.

“We have to bring Johnny Walker or we have to bring whisky because as you know there is a duty of 150% in India on Scotch whisky.

“But imagine what we could do if there was a free trade deal with India – which there will be. You are talking hundreds of millions of pounds of new exports.”

In response, Kaur said: “You have just said that the main objective is to get the trade between India and England and the basis of that is alcohol which is in Sikhism against our religion so I wouldn’t be wanting to put somebody in power who wants to put more alcohol in India which is causing lots of problems at the moment.”

Last October the former chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association David Frost left the organisation to begin a new role as adviser to foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

Earlier this year the trade body said the future of Scotch whisky will be a “litmus test” to measure the success of the UK’s departure from the European Union

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