Michael Gove tucks in to ‘substantial meal’ row by claiming scotch egg ‘with pickle and salad’ is a starter

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Michael Gove has issued further clarification on what does, and does not, count as a substantial meal in pubs and bars – stating that he believes a “a couple of scotch eggs… with pickle on the side” would constitute a starter.

Ministers have been forced to clarify guidance for hospitality firms which states alcohol can only be sold alongside a substantial meal as part of the measures implemented under tier 2 restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19.

However a day after environment secretary George Eustice suggested the porcine-poultry hybrid could form part of a substantial offering, Mr Gove has attempted to bulk up the plate.

“My own preference when it comes to a substantial meal might be more than just a scotch egg but that’s because I’m a hearty trencherman,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

The chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster had earlier noted on radio station LBC that two of the traditional picnic staples would be “a starter as far as I’m concerned” before discussing potential garnishes including pickle and a side salad.

“The government is relying on people’s common sense,” he added in response to GMB presenter Piers Morgan, who was holding aloft what he had described as “a big scotch egg” to illustrate his point.

Referring to the snack item, Mr Gove said: “As far as I’m concerned it’s probably a starter. The broader, more serious point I think we need to establish is there are reasonable rules about hospitality which are there to keep us all safe.”

Mr Gove went on to note the term has existed in law for a number of years as a prerequisite for families looking to buy an alcoholic drink for a 16-year-old in a licensed premises.

He could not, however, be drawn on the specifics of what would make up a substantial meal.

It comes as the government attempts to apply clarity to the rule, which will be enforced across the majority of England when the nation falls into a system of tiered lockdowns on Wednesday.

A day prior, George Eustice had told LBC’s Nick Ferrari he think’s “a scotch egg probably would count as a substantial meal if there were table service”.

“Often that might be as a starter but yes I think it would.”

And in October housing secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that while a packet of crisps alone would not count, a Cornish pasty with a side salad and chips would.

“It would be like a main course, rather than, say, a packet of crisps or a plate of chips.”

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