Boris Johnson urges against ‘vilifying bankers’

15:52 19 November 2012

Boris Johnson has given the green light for billionaires to sue in London : File picture: PA Wire

Boris Johnson has given the green light for billionaires to sue in London : File picture: PA Wire

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Boris Johnson today reiterated his calls for a third runway to be ruled out at Heathrow Airport.

The London Mayor also found time in a speech to the CBI conference to make an appeal for billionaires’ wives to sue for divorce in the capital.

He insisted the capital was the perfect place for “injured spouses” to take their wealthy other halves “to the cleaners”.

Mr Johnson also dismissed as absurd proposals for a tax raid on owners of expensive homes, warning that high rates of personal taxation would make Britain less competitive.

He urged politicians to be positive about businesses and stop using “austerity rhetoric”.

He insisted vilifying bankers was counterproductive - but also called on bankers to show more “moral leadership”.

“We have moved from the Age of Excess under Labour into an Age of Austerity - but if this country is to grow we need urgently to move on to a new Age of Enterprise,” he said.

“And for enterprise to flourish, we must be responsive to what is happening in the rest of the world.

“We can’t solve the banking crisis by imposing more regulations than our rivals in other European jurisdictions. We shouldn’t be gold plating the rules on capital adequacy out of some sense of guilt for having got it wrong last time, if that means we make London less attractive as a place to establish or expand your business.”

Mr Johnson added: “Not only have we got to stop vilifying bankers we need to make the moral case for banking for financing ventures at risk, for the free market allocation of capital as the most efficient means of enriching the greatest number of people. Because the human race has tried communism and it wasn’t a howling success.

“And symmetrically we need more moral leadership from the leading bankers of today.

It is not good enough for them to lick their wounds behind the stuccoed walls of their Notting Hill schlosses or to seclude themselves on the grouse moor and pretend that they have no reason to engage with society when the banking crisis had such a huge impact on many less fortunate than them.”

Amid speculation that David Cameron is preparing to do a U-turn on Heathrow expansion, the mayor said supporters of a third runway were delusional.

He said the political fallout and legal challenges would be so great it would not be any quicker than his preferred option of a new ‘Boris Island’ airport in Kent.

Mr Johnson also could not resist a dig at the coalition’s flagship police reforms as he took to the stage.

“I am delighted that this graveyard slot has generated a decent turn out,” he told the audience of business leaders in central London. “Bigger than the entire voting population in the recent police and crime commissioner elections.”

Hailing the capital as the “chief glory of the UK economy”, Mr Johnson said it dominated the world in the areas of law, property, insurance and accountancy.

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