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Transcript of Boris Johnson Interview

PLEASE NOTE "THE ANDREW MARR SHOW" MUST BE CREDITED IF ANY PART OF THIS TRANSCRIPT IS USED

THE ANDREW MARR SHOW

INTERVIEW:

BORIS JOHNSON, MP

MAYOR OF LONDON

DECEMBER 18th 2011

ANDREW MARR:

Well listening to that is a man who started his rise in journalism as a vividly eurosceptical reporter in Brussels before becoming a Tory MP and then winning election as Mayor of London - all of which makes Boris Johnson a significant voice in this argument which is raging over the future of the city and the Euro drama. He warned against David Cameron's big bazooka rhetoric, but he said that the Prime Minister's use of the veto showed (in his words) that he'd "played a blinder" and so now, after all that chatter about rivalry, Mr Cameron bathes in the warm glow of Boris Johnson's slack-jawed admiration. I have got that right, haven't I Boris?

BORIS JOHNSON:

More or less.

ANDREW MARR:

More or less.

BORIS JOHNSON:

No, I certainly think that the Prime Minister did the right thing and, as far as I understand what happened, the other week there was a series of modest British proposals on the table to protect financial services, which, as you've just been discussing with Peter Mandelson, are of great importance to the UK. They weren't anything the Germans and the French hadn't heard before, but, for reasons best known to themselves, they decided to throw it out.

ANDREW MARR:

Do you think that the city's position is safer now than it was before this summit?

BORIS JOHNSON:

I think it's unchanged, Andrew. I don't think that there will be …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So nothing has been won?

BORIS JOHNSON:

… there will be any more threat from Brussels to essential financial services in London as a result of the breakdown of the summit. Far from it. Obviously there is a continuing appetite in Brussels and in France and Germany to produce regulations, directives that could damage our ability to compete, and you've got to watch that. Some of this stuff can be decided at qualified majority. Most of the important stuff is still in unanimity.

ANDREW MARR:

What was it all about then, the great veto hoo-ha?

BORIS JOHNSON:

It was essentially about whether or not they would accept the terms, as I understand it, that the Prime Minister put out. But I think more fundamentally it was about whether we in Britain wanted to give our blessing within the EU treaties to the creation of what I think would be a frankly anti-democratic structure of a fiscal union that goes …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And a single government in effect?

BORIS JOHNSON:

Pretty much. I mean that's a sort of shorthand for it, but that's effectively what it would be. You'd be telling people in Brussels, in Frankfurt, would be telling the periphery European economies how much they could tax and spend. What is the point of democracy if the people you elect to parliament, your government can't decide what your taxing and spending policies are?

ANDREW MARR:

Do you think the Euro is then doomed in its current form?

BORIS JOHNSON:

I'd be amazed if we were all sitting here next year and the Euro had not undergone some sort of change. I think it highly likely that there will be a realignment in the sense that I think that …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Some countries will fall out?

BORIS JOHNSON:

I think possibly, yes, and we all know who the likely candidates are. But this doesn't have … The key thing I would say is I think there's such phobia about this and such a lot of political ego has been invested in the success of the Euro project that people are failing to see that actually that might be the best way forward. We continually go on with these hysterical attempts to bubblegum the whole thing together. We're just going to consign those periphery economies particularly to low growth and we're never going to get confidence back in the Eurozone.

ANDREW MARR:

And would you like to see in the coming year a referendum or at least agreement on what a referendum is going to be about and a promise that it's going to happen …

BORIS JOHNSON:

(over) A referendum in this country?

ANDREW MARR:

In this country, so people can decide whether they want to remain part of the EU or not.

BORIS JOHNSON:

Well I think what you certainly need to have is a referendum if there's a treaty change that substantially affects the UK. There's no question about that. But there's no …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Which it looks like it's not going to happen, but …

BORIS JOHNSON:

Right, but I mean there's no immediate reason, as far as I can see, to get embroiled in a referendum.

ANDREW MARR:

Now you mentioned the words "political ego" a moment ago. Let me turn to …

BORIS JOHNSON:

(over) I was talking about the Eurocrats.

ANDREW MARR:

You nonetheless mentioned the phrase.

BORIS JOHNSON:

I did.

ANDREW MARR:

You did. The Olympics - now an even larger, vast amount of money for the opening ceremony, never mind all the ground to air missiles and thousands of troops and all the rest of it. Now actually, given the Olympic tradition, do we need a vastly expensive sort of bloated ceremony so we can show off to the rest of the world?

BORIS JOHNSON:

Well let me put the argument for it. This is something that people in London, you and I in our generation, we're never going to see again. We're never going to have an occasion when London is at the centre of the world in that particular way. The multiplier effect of investing in something that celebrates London and the UK around the world is - I'm told by all the PR people, the advertising people, the economic analysis …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) There's your problem. (laughs)

BORIS JOHNSON:

… the economic analysis - this will deliver untold benefits for the UK. Because actually there are markets around the world …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And you're convinced by this?

BORIS JOHNSON:

… where the UK does need to improve its image, improve its brand, and this is a small sum of money by comparison with what the Chin… I mean I think the Chinese blew you know half our defence budget on fireworks. You know we are not going to be spending anything like what they did in Beijing, but given that this thing is only going to happen once in you know fifty, sixty years, I think we should do it well.

ANDREW MARR:

I just wonder whether Boris Johnson the columnist would have inveighed against all these unelected IOC officials in their great limousines being swept through London on special lanes guarded by troops and …

BORIS JOHNSON:

(over) Let me, let me tell … Wait, let me tell you. Boris Johnson, the Mayor, is going to make sure that these so-called fat cat Olympocrats are not going to be you know spraying spume into the trudging faces of Londoners. We are going to get as many as we can out of their cars and onto public transport. Seventy-eight per cent of people going to the games will already go by rail. The IOC, the International Olympic Committee has made it very clear to all their members that they're expected to go by tube if they possibly can or by the Javelin - seven minutes from Kings Cross to Stratford - and that is going to be the best way of getting to the park.

ANDREW MARR:

Yes. In the context of all of that, the politicians in charge - including yourself - will want to do absolutely anything to assure that nothing goes wrong …

BORIS JOHNSON:

Yuh.

ANDREW MARR:

… during those weeks, and it has been alleged that part of that is that you have in effect said to the transport unions in London you can have what you want. You know we will give you huge bonuses, huge extra amounts of money …

BORIS JOHNSON:

(over) No, no, no.

ANDREW MARR:

… not to go on strike, please, during that period.

BORIS JOHNSON:

No, on the contrary. There is a four year deal that's been done with the tube unions and with the tube drivers, which I think is a very good deal for London. We've never had a four year deal before. It's something that will deliver long-term stability.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And you've given quite a lot of money already.

BORIS JOHNSON:

… and that deal does reflect the reality that they will be doing extra. On the Boxing Day business and ASLEF, there is no justification whatever for their action because they are rostered to do 260 days a year and Boxing Day is part of that, and you know they are beautifully making the case for moving towards automation and driverless trains.

ANDREW MARR:

Let me ask you about the current position of the Conservative Party. I teased you slightly at the beginning about David Cameron and all of that, but he has done very well; the party's sort of very, very chipper about what's happened over Europe. Do you think there's a … No, you're not sure? There's a frown and a nod at the same time.

BORIS JOHNSON:

Well no, I was thinking … I was thinking that actually I think that what you're really seeing is a kind of void in people's understanding of what the opposition is really trying to say. I'm not quite clear what would have happened the other week if Ed Miliband had been in that chair. It's very far from obvious …

ANDREW MARR:

Okay.

BORIS JOHNSON:

… very far from obvious. So I think there is a certain extent to which the government is credited with dealing with very tough times and having to get Britain through out of the mire …

ANDREW MARR:

Yes.

BORIS JOHNSON:

… but also where's the opposition?

ANDREW MARR:

Sure. You're obviously a key player in the argument about banking reform. Tomorrow George Osborne announces the government's response. It looks pretty clear that banks are going to be split up. What is essential in your view to ensure that the City of London keeps making money and keeps its mojo?

BORIS JOHNSON:

Don't forget that … I mean I heard Peter Mandelson say just now that you know we've become excessively dependent on financial services. Okay, I would love to see the UK economy rebalanced, I'd love to see the growth of the manufacturing industry, but those guys, all those great glistening Temples of Mammon I can see behind you in the City and Canary Wharf, they produce 53 billion quids worth of tax. Now that is …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So what do you need to see from the government tomorrow?

BORIS JOHNSON:

(over) … that is something that is of huge value to the UK. That's schools and hospitals and all the rest of it.

ANDREW MARR:

Yeah, sure. So what do you need to see tomorrow on the banking regulation?

BORIS JOHNSON:

Just don't kill the goose. Don't kill the goose. I'm sure they will … There's no doubt there's something you know creepy about the huge bonuses that bankers are still continuing to receive in spite of the fact that they were effectively bailed out by the taxpayer.

ANDREW MARR:

Yuh, okay.

BORIS JOHNSON:

We all want to see them doing more for society.

ANDREW MARR:

Pluck the goose, don't kill the goose.

BORIS JOHNSON:

Exactly.

ANDREW MARR:

Christmas message from Boris Johnson there.

INTERVIEW ENDS




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