Michael Gove sparks Brexit split with Liam Fox by ruling out importing of chlorine-washed US chicken

Posted On: 
26th July 2017

Michael Gove has ruled out the importing of chlorine-washed US chicken to the UK after Brexit - despite his Cabinet colleague Liam Fox saying it is "perfectly safe".

Michael Gove gave an unequivocal answer on the Today programme this morning

The Environment Secretary said maintaining high animal welfare standards would be a "red line" in any trade talks with the US once Britain leaves the EU.

Chlorine-washed food is banned by EU regulations, but they will no longer apply in the UK after Brexit.

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On the BBC's Newsnight programme last night, International Trade Secretary Dr Fox, who is currently on a trip in the US laying the groundwork for a possible post-Brexit deal, said: "There's no food safety issue with chlorine-washed goods because the EU themselves say that's perfectly safe.

"I think more of an issue would be around the animal welfare issues that that might suggest and of course we've got no intention of reducing the quality and standards of our regulation and that's one of the things we've made very clear.

But Mr Gove struck a completely different tone when he was interviewed on Radio Four's Today programme this morning. Asked this morning whether or not chlorine-washed poultry should be allowed into the UK food chain, he said: “No”.

“I made it perfectly clear, and indeed this is something on which 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," he said.

Asked if the issue would be a red line in post-Brexit trade talks with American, Mr Gove said: "Yes."

He added: "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."