THE UK Government has been accused of orchestrating a “stitch-up” by inviting MPs to a meeting about crippling US whisky tariffs … two hours after it started.

International Trade Secretary invited MPs to talks yesterday billed as an update on US retaliatory tariffs on EU and UK products. However, the SNP complained the invite arrived a full two hours after the meeting began at 4.30pm.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) insists all opposition whips were notified at around 1pm. 

Donald Trump’s administration imposed 25% tariffs on Scotch whisky and other goods last October amid a row over European subsidies for Airbus. Earlier this week it was reported that the president had agreed to drop extra charges on shortbread and other products, but tariffs on malt whisky and Scotch whisky liqueurs will remain.

READ MORE: Whisky bosses warn of job losses as UK Government abandons tariff fight

The tariffs have cost Scotland's whisky sector around £200 million since they were imposed, with exports to the US plummeting by almost a third.

The chair of Westminster’s all-party parliamentary group on Scotch whisky, Brendan O’Hara, fumed at Truss over the missed meeting.

The National: Argyll and Bute's SNP MP Brendan O' Hara

The SNP MP for Argyll and Bute commented: “At a time when elected MPs should advocating behalf of the businesses we represent, we have instead been completely shut out in a Tory stitch-up. How can the industry take the UK Government seriously when such important meetings are a botch-job?

“The threat of continued US-imposed tariffs is utterly devastating to the Scotch whisky industry. When the industry needs certain, the message from Whitehall could not be more detached from reality.

“Flying visits to Scotland by Tory ministers mean absolutely nothing when inaction on whisky tariffs has already cost our economy £200m. It’s time for Westminster to wake up to reality, cut the childish games and deliver for Scotland’s whisky sector.”

A DIT spokesperson commented: “This is categorically untrue. All opposition whips were invited to the meeting at around 1pm."