Boris Johnson: 'We need to stop vilifying City bankers'


Boris Johnson yesterday called for people to stop vilifying bankers, arguing that doing so would not help to repair the economy.

The Mayor insisted "vilifying" bankers was counterproductive – but also called on the industry to show more "moral leadership".

The call came in a speech to the CBI conference, in which he also delivered a series of jibes at Coalition policies.

"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 went on: "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."

Mr Johnson also made an extraordinary appeal for billionaires' wives to sue for divorce in London.

The Mayor said the capital was the perfect place for "injured spouses" to take their wealthy other halves "to the cleaners".

He also mocked turnout 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. "I would never encourage anyone to sue, but if one oligarch feels defamed by another oligarch, it is London's lawyers who apply the necessary balm to the ego," he said.

"I have no shame in saying to the injured spouses of the world's billionaires if you want to take him to the cleaners... take him to the cleaners in London. Because London cleaners will be grateful for your business."

Amid speculation that David Cameron is preparing to do a U-turn on Heathrow expansion, the London Mayor Boris Johnson said supporters of a third runway at the airport were "delusional".