We Fact-Checked Boris Johnson's Claim That The EU Bans Big Bunches Of Bananas

    "It is absurd that we are told that you cannot sell bananas in bunches of more than two or three bananas," said the former mayor of London. We investigated.

    Boris Johnson claimed on Tuesday that EU rules are blocking the sale of bananas in bunches of more than "two or three".

    Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

    The leading anti-EU politician was addressing a rally of Vote Leave supporters in Staffordshire when he made the claim, as part of a bid to boost support for the UK leaving the organisation.

    "If we take back control on June 23, we can also get rid of so much of the pointless rules and regulations that are holding back this country," he said, according to The Guardian. "This gentleman here mentions bananas. It is absurd that we are told that you cannot sell bananas in bunches of more than two or three bananas. You cannot sell bananas with abnormal curvature."

    This is quite a bold claim, and could change the direction of June's EU referendum.

    If it is true that the EU is blocking the sale of bananas in large bunches, it's potentially massive news for a political campaign that has yet to focus on the issue of banana consumption.

    As part of our commitment to hard-hitting journalism, BuzzFeed News decided to investigate whether banana regulations are really "holding back this country" by going to our local supermarket and buying some bananas.

    Unfortunately, we found it was being demolished so went to a nearby market instead.

    At the market stall we found evidence of single bananas for sale.

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    There was a Boris-approved bunch of three bananas available.

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    And then suddenly there we were – a bunch of five bananas, smashing the former mayor of London's claims to bits.

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    Yes, you are currently scrolling through a fact-check of a politics story that consists of a load of iPhone pictures of bananas. Welcome to the EU referendum.

    Jim Margerham, who's been running the stall at London's under-threat Berwick Street market for 22 years, sold us a lot of bananas in various-sized bunches.

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    "Bananas grow on a big thing and they split them up," he patiently explained, before confirming he was unaware of any EU rules on the sale of banana bunches. "I've never heard of that one."

    Crucially, this seller of large banana bunches said he wasn't really into politics but was backing Remain: "I think maybe we shouldn't come out of [the EU]. The amount of stuff we import, they'd hold us to ransom."

    Journalists and pro-EU politicians have rounded on the banana claims.

    I suspect person who buys Boris his bananas has been stealing one and blaming the EU.I'm gonna blame EU for kids sweets being half empty

    Am told @BorisJohnson is claiming we can't buy bananas in more than bunches of 3. Am I dreaming? Is it a joke? #BorisBananas

    Today, Boris reveals he rarely does the food shop, he says you can't buy bunch of more than 3 bananas because of EU rules

    However, Vote Leave insists EU rules do indeed regulate bananas...

    The EU literally controls how many bananas you can display and sell in the UK. https://t.co/IIfEirCRlY @StrongerInP…

    ...and is now offering to report lawbreakers to the authorities.

    Have you ever bought a bunch of 2 or 3 bananas? That's a violation of EU reg No 1333/2011. Send us your pics so we can report to EU police.

    Although this time it's for selling small bunches of bananas, suggesting that if Johnson did have a point, he got his numbers the wrong way around.

    We asked the European Commission for comment but people there were presumably too busy measuring bananas to reply.

    Conclusion: You definitely can exercise your right to freedom and buy large bunches of bananas in the UK. However, you and the shops involved might be inadvertently be smashing the system and breaking EU regulations in the process.

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    We now have a lot of bananas.

    Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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