Boris Johnson to make move from zip wire to high finance in effort to boost economic credentials

Mayor of London planning trips this year to China, the Gulf and South America to “sell” London as a place to do business

His credentials for self-publicity have never been in doubt. But his grasp of macro-economics is, perhaps, less assured.

Now Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, is to spend less time on zip wires and more time on high finance to burnish his economic credentials as a serious politician on the international stage.

With a possible eye on life after City Hall, Mr Johnson will later this month travel to Davos – to make a keynote address at the prestigious World Economic Forum in the same slot previously filled by David Cameron and George Osborne.

He is also planning trips this year to China, the Gulf and South America to “sell” London as a place to do business and perhaps to sell Boris, the economic heavyweight, to a British audience.

Most intriguingly he has appointed Gerard Lyons, former chief economist at Standard Chartered Bank, as his chief economic adviser. Mr Lyons, a well-known and respected City figure who predicted the problems of the Eurozone as far back as 1999, will be paid an annual salary of £127,000 and advise Mr Johnson on how to ensure London remains globally competitive and a financial hub.

The new post will inevitably be seen as an attempt by Mr Johnson to burnish his economic credentials should he want to swap London for the national stage.

In his first interview since taking up the post Mr Lyons made clear that City Hall and Mayor would increasingly speak out on national economic issues which face the capital. He suggested there could be benefits to the UK economy if Britain were to withdraw from the EU and called for London to be allowed to keep more of the tax revenue raised in the capital.

He was also critical of national politicians who did not always recognise the challenges of changes to a global economy which was increasingly focused on Asia.

“Sometimes I think that Whitehall and Westminster people don’t really appreciate the pace and scale of the (economic) change – and the catch-up potential around the rest of the world,” he said.

“It is vital for the UK economy – for London – that it continues to be up to speed with global developments and ahead of them if possible.

“The danger is that when you’ve got a world economy where much of the growth is in the east where the west is still coming to terms with the financial crisis that if you don’t get the regulatory framework right you could see the city of London stagnating or suffering. If it were to shrink then that would be a big problem.”

City Hall observers believe part of Mr Lyons’ remit is to help the Mayor become more assured on economic issues – not just within the context of London – but on the national stage as well.

Ahead of Mr Cameron’s key note speech on Europe Mr Lyon’s echoed his new boss’s markedly more euro-sceptic stance – arguing that leaving the EU might not necessarily be bad for the wider UK economy.

“The same people who told us twelve or thirteen years ago that if we didn’t join the euro it would be a complete economic disaster for the UK are now seen as experts as to whether Britain should stay in the EU or not,” he said.

“That seems to be completely forgotten in the current debate. London would do well within the EU if we see a change within the overall relationship.

“But even if London was outside – would it really start to be penalised? I could construct a scenario where London suffers if we’re outside the EU. But at the same time I could construct you an equally believable, maybe more plausible scenario, where London would do well outside the EU.

“I don’t see being outside the EU being the big damaging environment that people say.”

Controversially Mr Lyons also suggested that following devolution in Scotland and Wales London should be allowed to keep and spend more of the revenue raised from the people who live there.

“The UK is a very centralised economy. In dealing with that issue there is the political reality of what Whitehall and Westminster will allow you to do. But at the same time it’s about the overall public debate about what’s the right thing.

“If London could have more of its own revenues to spend then I think that would be a very positive development for the London economy. Stamp duty would be an easy quick win.”

Mr Johnson himself is due to make a speech tonight to highlight his vision for London in 2020 – coincidentally the year of the election after next. His vision for London may not be the only one on show.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
Drinking - often heavily - is a running theme throughout HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation
food + drink
News
people
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living