Boris Johnson appeared yesterday in front of the Treasury Select Committee to be questioned by the chair Andrew Tyrie on membership of the EU. I’ve transcribed the first part of the conversation they had to give you a flavour of the tenor of the argument put forward for leaving the EU. I wholly recommend you follow this link and listen to the whole session.
We’ve had decades of these ridiculous stories in the press…instance after instance of stupid EU directives ‘ruining our British way of life’ but those of us who have put some thought into it have long realised it’s more down to the way the petty minded respond to or use those rules.
These arguments, repeatedly spouted, are the shoddy machinations of those who think they are better served by leaving the EU.
AT(Andrew Tyrie) I’d like to turn to your Telegraph article on 22nd February, you say that there are these ludicrous rules emanating from the EU and these are the reasons for your decision to leave and one of these rules that you site. One of these ludicrous rules….and I quote “rules that say you cannot recycle a teabag and that children under 8 cannot blow up balloons”.
BJ(Boris Johnson) Well may I say Mr Tyrie….
AT Could you tell me which EU directive or regulation says that children under 8 can’t blow up balloons
BJ er yes..the European commissions own website, I’d be happy to give you the number of the press release in a moment. The commissions own website says that adult supervision is required in the case of the use of un-inflated balloons by children under 8..and erm… I have to say in my household its more or less only children under 8 who are allowed to blow up balloons..er..ah…I really think it is ludicrous to have this sort of prescription at a European level….at a European level – I really think it is absolutely bonkers and I think that you do too.
AT What it actually says Boris, I have the toy safety directive in front of me “warning – children under 8 can choke or suffocate” and it’s asking that this warning can be placed on the packaging. It’s not requiring or forbidding….
BJ it’s ‘requiring’ it to be placed on the packaging
AT It’s requiring a ‘warning’ to be placed on the packaging its not prohibiting children under 8 from blowing up balloons.
BJ Well I think it even the the European union would find it very hard put to invigilate peoples’ households in such a way as to ‘actually’ prohibit people blowing up balloons the people..ah…people under 8 from blowing up balloons, Andrew.
On your point about recycling teabags, which you, which you er…mentioned: there is of course, and this is a classic example of gold-plating, the EU Animal by-products regulation of 2002 stated that ..er stuff that had ..er come into contact with er…with milk or with meat could not be recycled. Cardiff council… Cardiff council decided to interpret the animal by-products regulation 2002 in such a way as to forbid people from recycling teabags. Now that is a classic example in my view of the confluence of… .EU legislation with er…over zealous British implementation.. which we might call gold plating.
AT But that’s an action that we can perfectly well decide whether or not we want to implement it. It’s not true though, is it, to say that there is an EU regulation or directive that prevents…
BJ Yes there is
AT…people from recycling teabags. It would be true to say some countries might have gold plated or some councils might have gold plated or some..er…regional authorities might have or (unclear) might have decided to gold-plate recycling teabags.
BJ I think you’ll readily appreciate Mr Tyrie that without the Animal Byproducts regulation of 2002 there would be no ‘scope’ for the council to institute that prohibition and that is the…. they are relying on EU regulation..er as I say the Animal Byproducts regulation 2002 which I seem to remember..I think that’s the…erm..I think there’s a separate regulation that forbids you from er..burying your own sheep on your own ground…an animal hygiene regulation about your sheep…
AT we haven’t got into sheep yet
BJ….erm act 2001.
There are myriad of these things and they are taken and used by UK officials however well meaning in such a way as to….
AT So this is not….
BJ……add greatly to the burden of bureaucracy.
AT So taken and used..or misused by British officials on the back of something from the EU, which is not something which prohibits people from recycling teabags.
BJ No what it does…
AT It’s a misrepresentation to say that people are prevented from recycling teabags
BJ Well they ARE by Cardiff Council as a result of EU legislation.
AT That’s a much better description which was unfortunately, which was somehow omitted from your Telegraph….
BJ I think that if you…I think there was plenty in that article
AT So you’re really blaming Cardiff…
BJ I think there was plenty in that article about the Stockholm syndrome of UK officials who er…feel obliged to or take the opportunity to implement, over zealously. the legislation emanating from the EU.
And that is the whole point: one of the interesting things about this country is that we are far more enthusiastic about implementing these regulations than others and take it far more seriously and one of the…one of the nightmares I have in London is trying to..well the problem I have is the nightmare..it’s a series of uninterrupted joys my job in London. Er…one of the big challenges is getting more housing built- fast. There’s no doubt at all the European legislation of one kind or another, environmental impact assessments, whatever slow down the planning process and you have to wonder whether those processes would be quite so cumbersome and quite so slow in other European countries because we do relish this bureauocracy I’m afraid in this country and we do tend to implement it in a very strange way.
AT You seem to have changed your line of fire from the speech and the article which are attacking EU regulations to the actions of UK officials which of course the EU itself did not of course bring.
BJ It did.
AT And you yourself are saying…
BJ I totally disagree with you. I’m afraid I must respectfully disagree with you. Without the EU Animal By products regulation 2002 there would be no scope for the officials in question to implement, to institute that prohibition
AT Lets let people form their own view about the composting of teabags.
Do watch the whole video of Boris blundering his way through the whole session (link above) and if you want to see lots more of these EU ‘truths’ debunked the In Facts website is a good place to go.