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Boris Johnson accused of spreading 'fake news' after using fish as prop to rail against EU regulations

Johnson held the fish aloft at a Conservative Party rally on Wednesday.

BORIS JOHNSON HAS been accused of spreading “fake news” by a European Commissioner after brandishing a kipper at a campaign event to rail against the bloc’s bureaucracy.

The frontrunner in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister used a kipper to emphasise why his country should leave the European Union as soon as possible.

Addressing Conservative party members at a London rally yesterday, Johnson said the fish came from “a kipper smoker in the Isle of Man who is utterly furious”.

“Because after decades of sending kippers like this through the post, he has had his costs massively increased by Brussels bureaucrats, who have insisted that each kipper must be accompanied by this: a plastic ice pillow,” he said, holding that up too.

But Anca Paduraru, the EU Commission’s spokeswoman for food safety and health, rejected the claim at a briefing in Brussels on Thursday.

Although producers have a duty to meet food safety requirements, she said that the sale of products from food businesses to the final consumer is not covered by the EU.

“There are strict rules when it comes to fresh fish but these kinds of rules don’t apply to processed fishery products. I’m talking about the temperature and the exact case that he was explaining,” she said.

Paduraru said that the case described by Johnson falls outside the scope of EU legislation and was an issue for the UK.

CORRECTION Britain Conservatives Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson holds up a bagged smoked fish during a speech yesterday Source: Frank Augstein/PA Images

Isle of Man law

The Isle of Man is also not a member of the EU, but as a self-governing British Crown Dependency, it does have access to the customs union.

As a result, it must apply certain EU regulations, while it also keeps step with laws in Britain, its largest trading market.

A spokeswoman for the Isle of Man government told AFP that the rules on keeping kippers at the right temperature date back to 2007 legislation passed there.

It was introduced a few months after new EU regulation on the topic.

“The Isle of Man law is closely based on UK legislation and relevant EU food safety regulations,” the spokeswoman said.

“Where our goods are exported they are required to comply with standards of the destination market.”

Britain’s Food Standards Agency said that in the UK, all food delivered to customers that needs refrigeration “must be kept cool while they are being transported”.

“This may need to be packed in an insulated box with a coolant gel or in a cool bag,” it said.

A kipper producer on the Isle of Man, who said they did not provide the fish used by Johnson, confirmed they had received new advice on how to store the fish.

But an official indicated this was probably the result of efforts to reinforce the current rules, as the country prepares for any disruption from Brexit.

Kipper Source: Twitter

EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis accused Johnson of “fake news” following the stunt.

“Boris, the Isle of Man is not bound to the #EU ‘pointless and damaging’ *red tape* in #foodsafety that we are proud of because it protects consumers,” he tweeted.

“You omitted to say that the Isle of Man is not in the EU. This packaging — #uk competence. Yet another smoke. #fakenews”.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019

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