WHISKY bosses have blasted Boris Johnson for failing to stand up to Donald Trump over punitive tariffs that have decimated Scotch sales.

Last year, the president imposed crippling levies on a range of goods from EU countries as part of a long-running feud at the WTO over subsidies for Boeing and Airbus.

There were fears the US was set to introduce further taxes, but instead they removed a tariff on shortbread and kept the 25% import charge on single malt exports to the US.

In a scathing statement, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said they were disappointed with the time it has taken for ministers in London to start talks with counterparts in the US. That tardiness, the trade body said, could lead to job losses.

SWA chief executive Karen Betts said the tariff on single malt Scotch whisky exports had led to a 30% fall in sales to the US, costing firms around £300 million.

She added: “These losses relate only to tariffs – the impact of Covid-19 has been serious and has compounded what is now a very serious situation for Scotch Whisky, with some brands forced out of the market and jobs in the industry and our supply chain now at risk.

“The UK Government must accelerate negotiations to bring an end to tariffs between the UK and US before preparations for November’s presidential election bring talks to a halt.

“It has taken the UK Government a full six months after the UK left the EU to start to tackle tariffs directly with the US government, which seems to us inexplicably slow.”

She continued: Negotiations on a free trade agreement with the US will not solve tariffs and will not be credible while they remain in place.

“While we welcomed International Trade Secretary Liz Truss’s visit to the US last week, to talk directly to US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, it was clearly too little, too late.”

Betts called on the Prime Minister and Chancellor to step in to “ensure that the damage to our industry is, as far as possible, mitigated”.

She added: “The support promised to date – £500,000 of export promotion – is woefully inadequate compared to the support offered by the French and US governments to their national industries that have been targeted by tariffs. At the very least, the Government must commit to a duty cut in the Autumn Budget.”

Brendan O’Hara, the SNP MP for Argyll and Bute and chair of Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Scotch Whisky, said Trump’s tariff decision would “deliver a devastating body blow to Scotland’s vital whisky sector”.

He added: “The industry is looking to Boris Johnson to come good on his pledge to protect the sector from these punishing tariffs – it’s beyond shameful that we are still waiting for action to follow his rhetoric.”

The International Trade Secretary said she is “stepping up talks”.