Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said that it is for “common sense” to decide what a “substantial meal” is that will enable people to have a drink in pubs as lockdown lifts in England.
Gove was challenged by Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan as to whether a Scotch egg fitted the criteria after environment secretary George Eustice suggested it was.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s probably a starter. The broader, more serious point that we need to establish is that there are reasonable rules about hospitality which is there to keep us all safe and they specify that in certain areas if you are in a pub setting that when you’re ordering a drink it needs to be alongside a substantial meal”.
Asked what the definition of a substantial meal is, he told Morgan: “It’s a definition that has been around for years now. If I’m taking my 16-year-old son or 17-year-old daughter out to the pub I can buy them an alcoholic drink provided it’s with a substantial meal.”
Questioned a third time what the definition was, he replied: “It’s been defined in law for years now…”
Asked a fourth time for the definition, he said: “Well the law was passed long before I became an MP…”
“So you’ve no idea what a substantial meal is, even though it’s the central plank of the government’s policy for pubs and restaurants?” queried Morgan.
Gove, however, insisted: “We’ve got hospitality settings – pubs, restaurants and others – who are perfectly happy for years now to make sure that 16 and 17-year-olds only having drinks with substantial meals,” before claiming it was “common sense”.
Presenter Morgan snapped: “With respect Mr Gove, if you’re one of the gang-of-four who has been supposedly deciding all this stuff all year and even you can’t tell us what a substantial meal is, how is anybody supposed to know when they go to a pub or a restaurant what to order?”
Co-presenter Susanna Reid: “Yesterday, in fact, a government minister did tell us what a substantial meal was because George Eustice was on a radio station and said it was a Scotch egg. Now if I was running a pub and tonight at midnight I went into tier two, I would then take it as read that the government had told me I could serve a scotch egg.
“You’re now saying that is not a substantial meal, so even the government isn’t agreed, what are pub owners meant to do?”
She added: “And pubs need to know what to do because otherwise they get fined.”