Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

The surprise inclusion to George Osborne's Budget on Wednesday was the tax on sugary drinks.

The tax, equivalent to roughly 18-24p per litre, was revealed by the Chancellor, who admitted that some soft drinks companies had "started to reformulate their products" while introducing the new levy.

I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation:

I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing.

In Scotland, if you exclude products like bread, pasta and milk, then soft drinks are the single biggest source of sugar in the diet of Scots.

The country is also, it seems, not very happy about the prospect of a more expensive "national drink", if Scottish Sun's front page is anything to go by:

Or Twitter, for that matter:

Or shares in the makers of Irn-Bru:

In fact, the public outcry was so great, that former first minister Alex Salmond had to personally reassure the public on LBC:

You can get sugar-free Irn-Bru, it's very nice!

Roger White, the chief executive of the makers of Irn-Bru, Barr, told the BBC:

It is extremely disappointing that soft drinks have been singled out given it is the only food and drink category to have made any real progress in reducing sugar intake in recent years, down 13.6 per cent since 2012.

At AG Barr we have reduced the average calorific content across our brand range by 8.8 per cent in just four years and are actively contributing to the soft drinks industry-wide five-year target to make a 20 per cent reduction by 2020.

Who knew that the waning Scottish independence debate would be stirred up by a levy on Irn Bru?

In all seriousness, as the Independent's front points out, the surprise sugary drinks tax seems almost too headline-grabby - as if trying to hide something else from public scrutiny...

Such as the £55bn black hole in the public finances.

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