UK

Lib Dems ‘firmly on side of hospitality’ as sector boosted by Euro 2024 kick-off

Pubs, bars and restaurants are likely to see an increase in trade as Scotland hope for success in Germany.

Alex Cole-Hamilton highlighted the hospitality sector while visiting a cocktail bar in Edinburgh on Friday
Alex Cole-Hamilton highlighted the hospitality sector while visiting a cocktail bar in Edinburgh on Friday (Michael Boyd/PA)

The Liberal Democrats have said they are “firmly on the side of hospitality” as Euro 2024 kicks off on Friday.

During a visit to a cocktail bar in Edinburgh, Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the UK and Scottish governments have “made life harder for business”.

Scotland will open Euro 2024 on Friday night against hosts Germany in Munich, with thousands of fans making the trip.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “As people pour into pubs, bars and restaurants this month, venues across the country will be welcoming the increased trade.

“Many are still struggling to get back on their feet after the pandemic was immediately followed by the worst cost-of-living crisis for a generation, made worse by the chaotic Conservatives.

“The SNP have made life harder for business through their botched schemes.

Thousands of members of the Tartan Army have travelled to Munich for the Scotland game
Thousands of members of the Tartan Army have travelled to Munich for the Scotland game (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“By managing the public finances responsibly, Liberal Democrats will give businesses the stability, certainty and confidence they need.

“We will also create an immigration system that is sensitive to the needs of each sector of the economy.

“Liberal Democrats are firmly on the side of hospitality, which is why we would deliver a fair deal to tear down barriers, invest in people and skills and give businesses the environment they need to thrive.”

But Scottish Tory business spokesman Murdo Fraser rubbished Mr Cole-Hamilton’s claims.

“This is either some shameless spin from Alex Cole-Hamilton or he’s completely forgotten the huge support given by the UK Government to Scotland’s struggling hospitality businesses,” he said.

“That is in sharp contrast to the SNP, who kept Covid-related restrictions in place for longer and have still failed to pass on desperately needed rates relief to the sector, which their counterparts south of the border are enjoying.

“As he encourages people to support their local pub during the Euros, the Liberal Democrat leader should back our calls and deliver a win for the sector by forcing the SNP to give this much-needed rates relief.”

Drew Hendry, the SNP candidate for Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire, said: “Voters in Scotland have not forgotten that it was the Lib Dems who, desperate for a whiff of power, backed the Tories’ austerity agenda which has had a devastating effect on the economy.

“Only a vote for the SNP will protect our economy against further cuts and put the interests of Scotland first.

“Fourteen years of Westminster austerity, Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis have caused major damage to Scotland’s hospitality sector.

“Brexit, in particular, has had a devastating impact on the industry with increased costs, labour shortages and bureaucracy.

“Despite claiming to be anti-Brexit, the Lib Dems manifesto this week did not offer any commitment on a return to the EU.

“Only SNP MPs in Westminster will protect the hospitality industry, stand against yet more damaging cuts and offer Scotland a route back to Europe and the world’s largest single market.”

Labour shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “It is fantastic to see our hospitality sector benefit from the buzz of Scotland being in the Euros, and hopefully our bars and restaurants get an additional boost from Steve Clarke’s men doing the business at the tournament.

“After coming through the challenges of the pandemic, the rise of the cost of living and being subjected to the economic incompetence of our two governments, the sector still needs support.

“For more than a decade the Tories and the SNP have been more interested in selling their version of Scotland to Scots, rather than selling Scotland to the world.

“That will change if we replace the Tories with a Labour government that has Scottish Labour MPs at its heart.

“We will work with the Scottish Government to promote our brilliant country and all we have to offer.

“Scottish Labour will lead a Scottish trade mission to every corner of the Earth promoting products and services from every corner of Scotland.”