Defra Secretary Michael Gove has said a US push for chlorinated chicken to enter the UK would stop a trade deal dead in its tracks.
He made the promise during an exchange with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee this week.
New Ipswich MP Sandy Martin grilled the minister on whether standards would be diluted in order to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the USA.
“One of the things the cabinet has agreed, and we had this discussion, is we cannot compromise high environmental or high animal welfare standards in the pursuit of a trade deal”, Mr Gove said.
“In a way, it would be harmful for us to do so. Not just harmful in environmental terms, but harmful also because if we think about British produce, we compete and we sell on the basis of quality and provenance.
“If we were to undermine the high reputation British agriculture has earned by seeming to compromise on those standards, then we would be tarnishing the brand.
“I think that would be counterproductive economically, as well as the wrong thing in its own terms.”
A very sceptical chairman of the committee, Neil Parish, questioned whether the Government would stick to its guns if chlorine-washed chicken, which is safe to eat, was the only sticking point in an otherwise done deal.
“Are you actually going to sit there and tell me bluntly that this will hold up the whole trade deal?”, he asked.
“Yes”, Mr Gove replied.