'Stop buying Home Counties schlosses': Boris Johnson rattles super-wealthy with plea for greater philanthropy

Mayor of New York says Britain had yet to catch up with American idea of large-scale giving

Social Affairs Correspondent

Boris Johnson launched an extraordinary attack against Britain's super-rich today, saying they ignored philanthropy in favour of buying "colossal grouse moorland" and "great schlosses in the Home Counties".

In a speech that will disgruntle Tory grandees - and their grouse-farming, Home Country-dwelling supporters - the Mayor of London said rich Britons were too preoccupied with passing on "the biggest possible house" to their children to invest in good causes.

Speaking at the launch of a competition for innovation in European cities, funded through the philanthropy of New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, Mr Johnson said that Britain had yet to catch up with the American idea of large-scale giving.

"I think it's a cultural thing", he said. "The trouble with the people in this country is - and I'll get myself in terrible trouble here - but what they really want to do when they've amassed colossal wealth in Britain, what they like to do is buy the biggest possible house they can, with the most colossal grouse moorland they can find and then try in some desperate way to perpetuate it and to pass it on to their children, for some unknown reason. In America they have a different attitude. They believe that if you've made a lot of money you should do something for society."

He continued: "There's still something in Britain that regards giving away on a huge scale as being somehow ostentatious and that is absolutely ridiculous and the sooner people get over their lust to buy great schlosses in the Home Counties - or indeed grouse moors - and give to great causes in London, the better."

Interrupting Mr Johnson's rant, Mayor Bloomberg said: "For the record, I've been reasonably successful but I've never wanted to buy a grouse moor," to which Johnson replied: "That's right. But that is the tragedy of how it works in this country, and bully for you."

The London Mayor was speaking at the launch of Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire European cities to generate ideas to improve city life. The competition will award £4.2 million for the main prize-winner and one million for four additional cities that come up with the best ideas.

Mr Johnson said London's entries into the competition might include the ultra-low emission zone set to come in by 2020, barring any vehicle with an internal combustion engine, and aquatic village proposals he called a "Venice in the docks".

London and New York's mayors were joined at the news conference in London's City Hall by the Mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, and Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi.

The competition, which is similar to one conducted in America last year,  invites leaders of European cities with 100,000 residents or more to submit their city's "boldest idea". Around 600 cities around Europe are eligible to apply.

In a defence of his own philanthropy, Mr Bloomberg said: "There are some places in Europe where they look down on private philanthropy, arguing it takes away the responsibility of the Government. I think that's misguided because the government should do conventional things with the public's money, but society needs innovation and risk-takers and that's where private philanthropy fits in."

Tory demesnes: To the manor born

Boris Johnson

In a convenient memory lapse, Boris Johnson seems to have forgotten the sizeable estate that he and his siblings will inherit from his parents. His father Stanley Johnson inherited the 500-acre farm in the Exe Valley from his father, who bought it in 1951. Now Boris’s sister, Rachel Johnson, who edits The Lady, also has a cottage in the grounds. As well as a north London town house worth several million pounds, Boris himself has a former farmhouse in Oxfordshire that he bought for almost £750,000 in 2003.

Richard Benyon

A minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who recently advised people to save more leftovers, Mr Benyon is set to inherit a country pile with an 8,000-acre grouse moor attached. He was valued at £110m by The Times. He is the son of Sir William Benyon, a former Tory MP who owns the 20,000-acre Englefield Estate in Berkshire (above left), who is said to be worth £125m.

Iain Duncan Smith

The man who dreamt up the bedroom tax knows all about inheriting Home County piles. He lives rent-free in his father-in-law’s £2m Tudor house in a sprawling Buckinghamshire estate. It has at least five bedrooms, a swimming pool, tennis courts and acres of land.

David Cameron

The Prime Minister likes to downplay his privileged background, but he and his wife Samantha’s fortune has previously been estimated at £30m. They own a £1m country home in Oxfordshire and a £1.5m north Kensington house which they rent out, but their real wealth is likely to come from inheritance.

Emily Dugan and Jochan Embley

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music

Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin married in Venice yesterday
peopleAmal and George Clooney 'planning third celebration in England'
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley at the premiere of Laggie at Toronto Film Festival 2014
theatreActress 'to make Broadway debut'
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
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

Business Focused Business Analyst - Finance and Procurement System Implementation

£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...

Note Taker - Scribe

£10 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced note taker...

DT Teacher - Resistant Materials

£4800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: A full time...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker