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A scotch egg is definitely a substantial meal, Michael Gove has said, the Cabinet Office minister performing a screeching U-turn on his earlier controversial position that it constituted merely a starter.
Asked about the status of the delicacy a day after his cabinet colleague George Eustice told LBC on Tuesday that a Scotch egg “would count as a substantial meal if there were table service” and could therefore be served with alcohol by pubs in tier 2 areas after lockdown ends, Gove told the radio station: “A couple of scotch eggs is a starter, as far as I’m concerned.”
Forty-five minutes later, he said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “As far as I’m concerned it’s probably a starter … 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. The government is relying on people’s common sense.”
However, by the time he was interviewed by ITV News shortly afterwards, his position had evolved. He said: “A Scotch egg is a substantial meal. I myself would definitely scoff a couple of Scotch eggs if I had the chance, but I do recognise that it is a substantial meal.”
Gove, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the concept of the substantial meal had existed in law for many years, allowing families to buy 16-year-olds an alcoholic drink with food, but he could not say what it constituted.
“They (pubs) already do know what the rules are and they have for years now,” he said.
With businesses facing fines of £10,000 or even closure if they fail to comply with coronavirus regulations, the government has been under pressure to set out exactly what constitutes a proper meal.
In October, the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick said a Cornish pasty counted as a meal only if it came with sides, while police in Manchester found themselves at the centre of the confusion when they stopped a pizzeria from serving single slices, only to back down after the restaurant pointed out that they were “fucking massive”.
Speaking after Eustice’s intervention on Monday, Boris Johnson’s spokesman attempted to draw a line under the affair by arguing that the principle was “well-established in the hospitality industry” and declined to categorise sausage rolls, sandwiches and pork pies.
In legislation published in October, pubs were told that they could only serve alcohol with a “table meal” that “might be expected to be served as the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at either such meal”.
A “table meal” was defined as a meal eaten by “a person seated at a table, or at a counter or other structure which serves the purposes of a table and is not used for the service of refreshments for consumption by persons not seated at a table or structure serving the purposes of a table.”
Source: The Guardian
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