George Osborne has thrown down the gauntlet to soft drinks manufacturers threatening to take legal action against his sugar tax.

The Chancellor told a treasury select committee that the Government’s legal position on the controversial move was on solid ground and it would fight any legal challenge from manufacturers “robustly”.

He said: “I would say, if they want to have an argument about the sugar tax, bring it on. We are going to introduce a sugar tax, it’s not a threat or a promise, it’s the way it’s going to be.”

The sugar tax on soft drinks was a surprise announcement by the chancellor in his Budget statement on March 16 and is due to come into force from 2018.

The levy will be based on the volume of sugar drinks contain, with one rate for drinks with a total sugar content above 5g per 100ml, and a higher levy for drinks with more than 8g per 100ml.