London can drive Britain’s economic recovery so long as investment in transport continues, Boris Johnson has told the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
The mayor of London urged the Government to keep spending on projects in London despite the tough economic climate.
Johnson said: “Thanks to the common sense of this coalition Government, the settlement we got last year, we not only have the Tube upgrades, we have Crossrail and Thameslink, which is going to be as fantastic as Crossrail. I will not allow that investment and these vital improvements to be jeopardised for a short-term political gain.”
Turning to prime minister David Cameron, Johnson said: “I say to my friends in the Treasury – not all of whom I see here; well, Dave’s here – Franklin D Roosevelt offered a new deal. I give you the wheel deal: you help us to invest in transport infrastructure and we in London will supply the locomotive of the UK economy.”
Business would be attracted to London by improving transport and reducing crime, said Johnson, as he called for “the right tax and regulatory framework” and stated his belief that “British enterprise will do the rest”.
Johnson said his record since being elected as mayor in 2008 showed he deserved a second term when voters go to the polls in May next year. He declined to mention Labour candidate Ken Livingstone during the speech, but Johnson highlighted falling crime on public transport, the launch of the Oyster card on overground trains and the scrapping of bendy buses as his leading achievements.
“I reckon we have a record to be proud of,” he said. “We have effectively cut the council tax by 10 per cent over the last three years, we have put Oyster on the overground, we have delivered a 24-hour freedom pass for the people of London – a fact I hardly dare mention in Manchester in case they get jealous – (and) the last bendy bus will leave our streets by Christmas. In the new year we will see a generation of Routemaster-style bus with the open platform.”
Livingstone criticised Johnson’s speech and labelled him as “out of touch”. He said: “Today we saw the real Boris Johnson – an out-of-touch Conservative, failing to put ordinary Londoners first on the issues that really affect them, from rising fares to police cuts.
“He gave no hope to Londoners facing another steep fare rise this January, which will mean bus fares are up 56 per cent under a Tory mayor, and gave no hard commitment on police numbers, which are in fact due to fall by 1,800 according to his own Metropolitan Police figures.”