Boris Johnson is doing his bit to push Britain towards the Brexit door and like many in the ‘leave’ camp he seems intent on doing it one silly lie at a time. It’s text book stuff: pick a ridiculous lie about the EU and then keeping repeating it as fact until it sticks.
At his monthly Mayor’s question time on Wednesday morning Johnson told members of the London Assembly there are EU laws banning children under eight from blowing up balloons.
It was the second time in a month he’d mentioned this law. Penning a piece for The Telegraph in February, Johnson wrote:
"Sometimes these EU rules sound simply ludicrous, like the rule that you can’t recycle a teabag, or that children under eight cannot blow up balloons."
The EU addressed the balloon claim back in 2011, when The Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express first reported the supposed ban. The EU made clear back then "balloons made of latex carry a warning aiming to prevent children from choking or suffocating…This warning recommends adult supervision, it does not forbid children under 8 from inflating balloons".
It should also be pointed out Boris's teabag claim isn’t true either. ("Under EU law the UK is fully entitled, but not obliged, to impose stringent standards on the composting of household catering waste... It is also up to member states to ensure they have the treatment facilities in place to enforce their own standards").
These claims are easy to check but that won’t stop politicians and newspapers using them, because it is an approach that works. Repeated enough, a lie, even - or perhaps especially - a ludicrous one, can stick.
You can find a handy list of ‘Euromyths’ here. You may need it in the months ahead.