Boris Johnson was accused of exaggerating and misrepresenting the case for Brexit by the chairman of the Commons Treasury committee today, as the two Tory MPs argued over teabags, balloons and coffins.
When he announced he would be campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union, the London mayor used his Daily Telegraph column to criticise the reach of European law.
"The more the EU does, the less room there is for national decision-making. 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, or the limits on the power of vacuum cleaners."
But Andrew Tyrie, the chair of the committee, told Boris some of his claims were untrue and simply "a figment of your imagination".
Tyrie asked Boris: "Could you tell me which EU regulation or directive says children under eight can’t blow up balloons?"
Boris said the EU Commission says adult supervision is required if children under eight want to blow up a balloon. "I have to say in my household only children under eight are allowed to blow up balloons," he said.
"I do think it is absolutely ludicrous to have this kind of proscription at a European level, I think it's absolutely bonkers."
But Tyrie said the directive simply required a warning be put on balloons that they are a choking hazard. "It's not prohibiting children under eight from blowing up balloons," he said.
And he added of another of Boris' claims: "It's not true, though, to say there is an EU regulation or directive that prohibits people from recycling teabags."
The committee chairman also said Boris' story about rules regulating the size of "euro-coffins" was "a figment of your imagination".
“It's not true though to say there is an EU regulation or directive that prohibits people from recycling teabags”
At several points during the session, Tyrie appeared exasperated at Boris' "humoresque" approach, accusing him of "busking" answers to a "very serious question for the UK".
Tyrie told Boris any "reasonable man" would conclude he had either "exaggerated or misrepresented" his claims about the EU.
The mayor of London also told Labour committee member Rachel Reeves there were "no good economic arguments" for staying inside the EU.
"There are good political arguments but I don’t think there are good economic arguments," he said.
Boris told the MPs he thought the session had gone well. "I think I’ve demolished all the questions that have been asked," he said.