- Environment secretary rules out import of chlorinated chicken in new Cabinet rift.
- Fox claimed yesterday that there was “no issue” with chlorine-soaked meat.
- But Gove insists that UK must not lower its food safety standards after Brexit.
- Gove’s comments come after EU officials accuse Britain of “ignorance” on the issue.
LONDON — Michael Gove today ruled out Britain accepting chlorinated chicken as part of any future free trade deal with the US, in a new Cabinet rift over Brexit.
Chlorinated chicken is currently banned from import under EU rules, along with the use of growth hormones in beef farming, the spraying of pig carcasses with lactic acid and the sale of unlabelled genetically modified food.
However, the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has been pushing for the UK to drop its food safety standards in order to secure a deal with the Trump administration.
Fox told Newsnight on Tuesday that there was “no issue” with importing meat from the US that had been washed in chlorine, despite current EU rules forbidding it.
However, the environment secretary told the Today programme this morning that the UK would not “dilute” its standards in order to secure a deal with teh US.
Asked if the UK would be willing to accept chlorine-soaked chicken, Gove replied: “No, I made it perfectly clear, and this is something that all members of the government are agreed, that we are not going to dilute our high animal welfare standards or our high environmental standards in pursuit of any trade deal.”
Asked if it would be a red line in negotiations with the US, he replied “yes,” before adding: “We need to ensure that we do not compromise those standards.
“We need to be in a position when we leave the European Union to be a leader on animal welfare standards.”
Gove’s comments came after EU officials accused the UK of being “ignorant” on the issue.
One official told the Guardian that Fox’s claim that the issue of chlorinated chicken was just an insignificant detail in trade negotiations was “ignorant and indigestible.
The row comes as President Donald Trump talks up the prospect of a deal between the two countries.
Trump said on Tuesday that there was a “very big and exciting deal” in prospect.
“Working on major Trade Deal with the United Kingdom. Could be very big & exciting. JOBS! The E.U. is very protectionist with the U.S. STOP!” he tweeted.