Don’t ‘slam the door’ on foreign property owners in London, says Boris

08:15 17 January 2014

London Mayor Boris Johnson is questioned over giving the Met water cannons (Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA)

London Mayor Boris Johnson is questioned over giving the Met water cannons (Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA)

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Boris Johnson has waded into the row over foreign investment buying up London properties by saying it would be wrong to ‘slam the door’ on overseas investment.

Speaking at the annual Mansion House London Government Dinner last night the Mayor said he recognised a ‘desperate shortage of homes’ in the capital, but said it would be ‘utterly nuts’ to pursue any policy which deterred those from abroad from purchasing property.

It comes after Chancellor George Osborne is set to impose a so-called ‘oligarch tax’ on sales of homes by non-UK residents in a bid to cool the city’s overheated housing market.

A sharp increase in overseas purchases, especially by rich investors from Russia and the Middle East, has been blamed in part for spiralling prices.

Mr Johnson said new builds should be ‘marketed first to Londoners’, he suggested, and foreign owners should either live in or rent out their properties not just regard them as ‘blocks of bullion in the sky’.

“But what I don’t want to do is to follow the logic that I read from time to time and that is to slam the door again on the right of overseas residents to buy homes in London, notwithstanding the effect they may have in some parts of prime London on the market,” he said.

“I don’t think that is the right approach.”

He did not refer directly to the tax policy, but added: “I do not in any way want to deter international investment in our city. Quite the reverse: I want to encourage it.

“You can see astonishing transformations taking place in London thanks to international investment.

“We would be utterly nuts as a society if we did anything to turn that away.”

A speech by Boris would not be complete without a gaffe, and he didn’t disappoint, risking a diplomatic spat with Germany by noting that London was now home to a huge number of French ex-pats, quipping: “Any bigger, my friends, and we will have to worry about the possibility of a German invasion.

“For the benefit of all international diplomats here tonight, that’s a joke. Don’t panic,” he added hastily.

Beleaguered French president Francois Hollande also came in for a ribbing, with Mr Johnson - who has himself had to deal with personal scandals being exposed - telling him: “If things get too tough for you over there, just put on your famous crash helmet, get on your scooter and join the exodus to London where you will find, amongst other attractions, a civilised and gentle media who would never dream of being so vulgar as to discuss your personal affairs.”

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest London politics news

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The capital saw a protest two weeks ago after the Tories were elected (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

As the Queen’s Speech marks the official formation of the Conservative government, anti-austerity protesters are planning to hold a demonstration in Trafalgar Square at 5pm this evening.

Monday, May 25, 2015
As TfL are taking over the London Liverpool Street to Shenfield line, it will now appear on the Tube map.

Train services from Shenfield to London Liverpool Street will be run by TfL from May 31.

Monday, May 18, 2015
Your future Mayor? [Image from YouTube]

Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, Ivan Massow, has transformed himself into a cartoon character in order to get the top job.

Sunday, May 10, 2015
Protestors are surrounded by police (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

All but one of 15 people arrested during a spontaneous anti-austerity protest against the new Tory government have been bailed, police said today.

Friday, May 8, 2015
Voters in Hampstead voted for Ronnie Carroll, who is dead (PA)

A total of 113 people voted for a parliamentary candidate who died four weeks before the election.

Friday, May 8, 2015
Ed Balls has lost his seat (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Ed Balls became the highest-profile casualty of a disastrous General Election performance for Labour, losing his seat to the Conservatives in a shock result. Twitter reacted to his demise...

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

The sell out 2014 event 32 Londoners, returns to the Coca-Cola London Eye!

The Coca-Cola London Eye is proud to announce that 32 Londoners will be returning this June, following last year’s sell out event. The event will feature 32 talks, in each of the London Eye’s 32 capsules on 32 extraordinary Londoners.

Read more
You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Read more
Time to experience the dizzy heights of London's tallest attraction!

Morgan Pryce, commercial property experts based in London are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Shard viewing platform in the city itself.

Read more