Transcript of Boris's speech to business leaders in Davos:
It was the crack of dawn on Wed morning and I was sitting at my desk in North London and I became aware of a powerful disturbance in the atmosphere – and I don’t just mean the planes queuing to get into Heathrow…
I could suddenly smell a sulphurous aroma and then I realized that it was le pong
It was the malodorous vapours being emitted by that incontinent gas plant in Rouen that had been suffocating Kent and that had reached London the previous evening; and I thought how absurd it was of the doomsters to warn that Britain could in any meaningful sense leave Europe when there are some days when we can actually smell the French and no doubt some days when they can smell us
And then I turned the pages of the Daily Telegraph and to my joy I read that London will shortly be graced by another emanation from France - someone fragrant, someone chic not Depardieu, not Sarkozy. I mean Carla Bruni
Yes, I read that for tax reasons France’s former number one power couple are leaving Paris for Kensington; and I can imagine that this news has broken like a thunderclap over the grief-stricken French capital and that people are begging Sarko and his wife not to go to London and that they are claiming we are neither sophisticated nor stylish enough to welcome the chinchilla-clad form of Carla..
So let me ask any Londoners here: are we ready to welcome Carla? Are we ready? Do you remember last summer there was a chap called Mitt Romney who said London wasn’t ready to host the Olympic games and do you remember what happened to him and what happened in London where the Jubilee line ran three mph faster than it did when I was elected and all the security guards showed up for work and the sun shone and the city looked fantastic and it was as if the entire British population had been crop-dusted with serotonin.
It went well, didn’t it?
But it went well because it had to go well, because the consequences of failure would have been unthinkable
So for seven years London worked together to meet that challenge, with some of the best minds of the public sector cooperating with some of the ablest business people I have met and my message to you today is that we need to marshal that same technique - public and private sector working in partnership,focusing on infrastructure – to meet the challenges London faces today; because we are not only in straitened financial circumstances, and facing intensifying competition from other cities but we are also seeing a demographic explosion in London unlike any other city in Europe.
The population has risen by 600,000 since I was elected, and will rise by a further million by 2030 and those people will need good housing they will need skills, and above all they will need jobs when they reach the labour market.And when I look at the pressures London faces today, I am astonished by the degree to which we are meeting that challenge, of coping with more people while making the city ever more liveable.
We have the lowest murder rate since the 1960s,we have cut deaths of young people from knives and guns by more than 50 percent since I was elected - 8 last year against 28 in 2008 - and crime downoverall by 13 per cent.
We are going forward with a neo-Victorian phase of investment in public transport from Crossrail to driverless trains to cleaner taxis and a beautiful hop-on hop-off Routemaster bus now being extended to route 24 and the best bike hire scheme in the world funded by a great British bank…
And our emergency services are so efficient that when a work experience girl at Vogue magazine allowed the office pet dachsund to become trapped in the revolving door at Vogue house the incident was attended by no fewer than two fire engines which is why deaths from fire have come down 40 per cent in the last ten years and possibly shows the anxious residents of London that there maybe scope for reform
and economy –and certainly shows Carla the importance we attach to the fashion industry.
And I believe that it is as a result of those improvements in quality of life,and partly as a result of the success of London 2012 Diamond Jubilee and Olympics – a beacon of positivity that was flashed around the world - that we are seeing some extraordinary international investments.
I could take you to Battersea, where a mouldering old hulk of a derelict power station is being turned into thousands of jobs
I could show you Croydon, where Westfield and Hammerson have just announced a
£1.1 billion investment in regenerating the town centre or the City itself where the cranes are once again on the horizon and the cheese grater and the walky talky and the ladyshave.
I could show you about 18 opportunity areas around London where the ice floesare melting
and the investment is going in and with that kind of opportunity and that kind of growth it is vital that we set out a coherent programme for the development of London. An agenda on which the public and private sector can together focus their minds as we did for the Olympics and that is why in the next few months we in City Hall will be publishing a 2020 vision - partly a manifesto for our friends in the Treasury who hold the purse strings and partly a prospectus for investors - showing the challenges and opportunities the city faces, showing what we are doing now and spelling out what we need to get under way by 2020. I don’t want to anticipate that document entirely today but let me give a very brief economic prescription for jobs and growth in London - a city that on its own accounts for 22 per cent of UK GVA, with 15 per cent coming from the rest of the SE which makes the London economy bigger than Austria, Sweden, Belgium and many other EU states.
1 We need to build the hundreds of thousands of homes that the city will need,because a concerted programme of house-building will drive the rest of the economy, with one in four smes in construction and I believe the growth boost would mean we could make that investment without damaging the UK’s triple A rating and indeed we could do 80 per cent of these new homes in the opportunity areas I have just mentioned
2 we need to invest in the rail and road infrastructure that will get theworkforce of London and the south east to their jobs on time and that iscritical to our competitiveness
new river crossings
3 we need to stop bashing industries in which London is strong – financial services, thatcontribute £63 bn in tax – and we need to build up the growth industries of the futuretech, academic health science, innovations driven by the universities
4 we need to get young people into work by expanding the apprenticeship programme
5 we need to be tax competitive with the rest of the world, and London and theUK should be offering low and stable rates of tax
6 we need to be open to the rest of the world, not just with a sensible visa policy but with a new 24 hour hub airport with four runways so that we can properly compete with our continental rivals and let me assure you that the expansion of Heathrow is a delusion and a disaster - because even if you could get a third runway built by 2026 which is itself doubtful you would find that it was almost immediately obsolete and that we would have to construct a fourth runway - as they already have at Paris, at Amsterdam, at Frankfurt and that would truly be an environmental catastrophe for the people of London who already endure 30 per cent of all the noise pollution produced by aircraft around all 76 of Europe’s main airports. That proposal was rightly killed by this government and it will never be accepted by any mayor. It is vehemently opposed by every member of the London assembly and I urge leaders of UK business now to look at the extraordinary potential of the alternatives either at Stansted or at the two estuary sites that with sufficient political will could be delivered on roughly the same timescale as the third runway at Heathrow and that could be very largely financed by some of the international investors at Davos today.
We welcome the government’s decision to abandon the policy of no more runwaysin the south east. We welcome the work of Sir Howard Davies but with newrunways being built by our immediate rivals new airports being announcedvirtually every month by Turkey or China and with Heathrow so overloaded thatthe slightest disturbance causes chaos we cannot understand the panda-like pacewith which government is addressing the problem.
7 and lastly we need to remember confidence we need to junk talk of austerity and recognize that the single biggest inhibitor of demand is lack of confidence and that if only some of the people in this room would invest some of the cash in their balance sheets we would see that confidence rewarded in a virtuous circle
**This morning's news demonstrates why the Chancellor is pursuing measures now that will boost confidence, further stimulate demand and bring growth, through investment in housing, transport and infrastructure.
**And the purpose of the 2020 vision is to show how we in the public sector propose to use our investments to make sure that private sector investment in London is rewarded in the long term. If we get these things right then we will lengthen London’s lead and get London’s growing population into the jobs they need and so I can tell Carla and Nicolas that they will love London a place not only with more museums than Paris – and free museums at that more theatres and in what is an astonishing statistic I have not verified myself more Michelin starred restaurants, a city that not only exports cake but lavender scent grown,picked, distilled, perfected in the London borough of Croydon, le parfum de Wallington going from London to France and a city that apart from anything else is the sixth biggest French city on earth and likely to move up the rankings as more talented people flee the socialist tax terror in the biggest exodus since 1789. That is the city of which I am proud to be mayor a city with an amazing future as the locomotive of the UK economy and that continues to combine the roles of commercial and financial capital of Europe with a unique relationship with America as well as being the natural crossroads, headquarters and capital of the Brics and other emerging economies, the great intersecting set in the venn diagram of world trade.
and so I say to Carla and Nicolas bienvenus a Londres and to British businessthank you for what you are doing to help make it the greatest city on earth
Thank you for lunch and see you in London - when you get clearance to land..