Michael Gove, the UK’s environment minister, has ruled out importing chickens treated with chlorine as part of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, laying bare a split among Tory government ministers.

Last night, international trade secretary Liam Fox said there was “no issue” with importing chlorinated chicken from the US, despite EU rules forbidding it.

But Mr Gove hit back at his ministerial counterpart, telling BBC Radio 4′s Today programme he did not want to see the UK’s animal welfare standards “diluted”.

Asked if he would accept the import of chlorinated chickens, Mr Gove flatly replied:

No. I’ve made it perfectly clear, and this is something on which all members of the government are agreed, we are not going to dilute our high animal welfare standards or our high environmental standards in pursuit of any trade deal.

When it was put to him that this would mean telling Mr Trump to “kiss goodbye” to a trade deal should he insist on the imports under a trade deal, Mr Gove was resolute. “Yes. We do not compromise those standards,” he said.

“We need to be in a position when we leave the European Union to be leaders in animal welfare standards. Britain’s role traditionally is to be a leader in environmental standards”, said Mr Gove, a prominent backer of the Leave campaign in last year’s referendum.

Get alerts on Brexit when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article