The Environment Secretary and frontline Brexiteer has repeatedly pushed back against claims he will allow chlorine washed chicken from the US to be imported into Britain.
Chicken is washed with chlorine to remove disease from intensively farmed poultry and is widespread on US farms but was banned in the EU in 1997.
Now Mr Gove has claimed the aim to ensure food sold in Britain is reared with high welfare standards could hold up a trade deal with the US.
Speaking to the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, he said he would ensure UK welfare standards were protected.
Gove claimed welfare standards could hold up a US trade deal for the UK
Mr Gove said: "We want to have a free trade deal, but, of course, we need to have those protections, and if we can't achieve protections in those areas then any deal will necessarily have a slightly narrower scope."
Asked if this could slow down the process of negotiating a trade deal with the US, he said “yes”.
Mr Gove’s comments will come as a relief for British poultry farmers, who raise their stock with some of the highest food welfare standards in the world and risk being pushed out of the market by international exporters who sell cheaper, lower quality produce.
But his assurances clash with fellow Brexit campaigner Liam Fox, who claimed there was no health issue with chlorine washed chicken – and the matter would simply be "a detail of the very end stage of one sector of a potential free trade agreement".
Eight Major Powers of the World
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Mr Gove’s comments will come as a relief for British poultry farmers
However, it appears the chlorine washed chicken debate has not ruffled any feathers between the two, with Mr Gove saying he is working so closely with Dr Fox and Brexit secretary David Davis that it is as though they are "brothers from a different mother”.
Mr Gove went on to defend the nation’s agriculture and fisheries from any threats from the EU, saying they would “absolutely not” get sold out in order to get a better deal from the bloc.
He added: ”In the conversations that I have had with Cabinet colleagues so far there is a deep appreciation that it is not just the case that agriculture matters because food and drink is our biggest manufacturing sector, it goes far beyond that.
"There are specific opportunities for agriculture and fisheries outside the European Union, greater than perhaps any other sector… for a potentially rapid growth."
Mr Gove went on to defend the nation’s agriculture and fisheries from any threats from the EU
Brexit talks: David Davis and Michel Barnier hold press conference
Thu, August 31, 2017
Live pictures from the third round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels
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David Davis gives a press briefing at the end of third round of Negotiation on 'Brexit' talks at the EU Commission, in Brussels
Last month David Coker, former vice president of global risk management at Deutsche Bank, claimed food will be safer and cheaper in Britain than the EU after Brexit.
He told Express.co.uk: “UK importation of food produced in the US can actually raise American food standards while lowering British food costs, increasing our food safety.
“In other words, we don’t need to lower our existing food standards to trade with the US.”
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