Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes has urged chancellor Philip Hammond to increase taxes on alcohol imported into the UK, to ease the burden on homegrown products, according to reports.

The Sun has this morning quoted from a letter it claims Menezes sent to Hammond, in which he says: “We are exactly the kind of unique British product the UK needs to thrive after Brexit.

“It is inexplicable to apply punitive rates of taxation to a great British industry – 80 per cent of the price of an average bottle of Scotch - while applying much lower rates to wine, 99 per cent of which is imported into the UK.”

He warns the Chancellor that another rate hike on spirits in the Budget later this month could force Diageo to cut investment and jobs – threatening one of Britain’s biggest exports.

The Sun said his call is being backed by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and her Scottish MPs – who have been lobbying the Treasury on behalf of Scotch whisky makers.

Menezes added: “We know that finance ministers in many countries look to the UK Budget as an indicator of how they treat spirits.

“And I urge you to send a signal to the industry and the world that you back Scotch and the wider spirits sector by cutting duty.”