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Brussels, Balls, budgerigars and bad French accents: Boris Johnson's speech at Gavin Barwell's rally in full


BORIS Johnson spoke at the launch of Gavin Barwell's bid to be reelected in Croydon Central on Tuesday night. The Mayor of London, himself seeking a return to Westminster, railed against Brussels bureaucracy, commented on the Scottish referendum and, unsurprisingly, criticised Labour. He also mentioned people doing inappropriate things with vacuum cleaners. Here is his speech in full (with some fact-checking): 

"It's great to be here tonight, in Croydon. I have to say, in the last few weeks of this campaign on devolution that we've just had, I've heard all sorts of nonsense, didn't you? North of the border, Anglophobic, London-phobic sort of claptrap.

"If you listened to some of our SNP friends you would think that this was a city culturally, politically, economically, spiritually divorced from the rest of the country. I think of the people living in luxury, drinking pearls dissolved in vinegar and bowling back on the luxuriousness of their Barclay's bicycles and…that's how they presented London, wasn't it?

"Do you recognise that picture of our great capital? I don't. London is the capital of England. It's the capital of Britain and, thanks to the wisdom of the Scottish electorate; it's the capital of the United Kingdom and will remain so.

"It has its problems and has done for ages. It has four of the six poorest boroughs in the UK. We've got gang crime, knife crime, all sorts of problems. The reality is that we are dealing with those problems thanks very largely to the fantastic campaigning and work of MPs like Gavin Barwell.

"He is an absolutely superb MP and I'm delighted to say that under the Barwell regime which is in sync with my own, crime in London is down by about ten per cent*. Bus crime is down by 40 per cent. That's crime on buses, not by buses. We're all worried about knife crime and gun crime, but the murder rate in Croydon is down by 50 per cent over this period**. That's been achieved largely by the police, but also by your MP Gavin Barwell who came to me and said we need to have police on the beat in Croydon and he was instrumental in securing those 117 extra police*** which you have and we will make sure we work flat out together, he and I, to keep those numbers high.

"Jobs. The economic prospects of this area have never been better. This is the powerhouse of the south London economy. Who would have thought, six years ago, that Croydon would have one of the biggest tech sectors. Yes it does, anywhere in Europe. Big tech, bio tech, med tech, nano tech, tech – it's all here and has been championed, as you heard earlier on, by Gavin Barwell.

"Those jobs are in all sorts of sectors of the economy and my job, as mayor, is to work with your council – it used to be Conservative but not anymore – and to make sure we go through with the fantastic projects that Croydon needs.

"I'll mention the Wellesley Road improvements. We've lavished many millions on it and they will be wonderful when they come through. There's the incredible prospect of the Westfield/Hammerson development. I played a small part in getting those two mastodons to engage in congress together which they did. It was jolly difficult. But when there was some particularly tetchy moments, some tricky passages in those negotiations, I will tell you that your MP, Gavin Barwell, was absolutely fantastic with his energy and commitment to the deal.

"So, we want him here in Croydon, don't we? I'll tell you what else, we want him in Westminster. He's also made some fantastic contributions to the debate on the discrimination against people with mental disabilities. He is a man of wide interest and a fantastic Parliamentary performer.

"Why would you want him in Westminster in addition to his great merits? It's because we don't want a Labour MP in Croydon. We don't want a Labour government. We don't want Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. I was told this wasn't a political audience. I don't want Ed Balls giving back the keys to the car that they crashed so spectacularly. I don't want them getting hold of the keys to Downing Street and throwing away the only chance that people of my generation have had to vote on the European Union.

"There's only one way we're going to get the reform of the EU that we want, and the renegotiation that we need, and that's to get David Cameron in government. It's not just the common agricultural policy which costs every family in this room – and I hear some hungry children at the back. That's £400 extra you can spend on whatever you want to eat.

"It's not only that. It's not only the immigration rules which mean we cannot do anything to protect our borders, to have a managed immigration [system]. I'm a believer in letting talented people come to this country. I'm not a believer in uncontrolled immigration which is deeply unfair on London councils who have to run this city. It was Labour that started and it's only going to be David Cameron and the Conservatives who will sort it out.

"I also want a Conservative administration to get in and stop Brussels coming forward with quite so much preposterous, unnecessary, burdensome regulation on business industry in this country. It's not just the business industry but ordinary households, my friends.

"I read the other day in the Daily Telegraph – if you can't believe the Daily Telegraph, what can you believe? - That some wiseguy in Brussels was proposing to ban vacuum cleaners that were too powerful. Did you read this nonsense? I'm perfectly willing to accept that in the wrong hands, incautiously handled, a vacuum maybe occasionally sucked your budgerigar out of its cage, or inhaled your hamster. I'm told there are people who presented at accident and emergency wards with embarrassing injuries sustained by what we can only call vacuum cleaner abuse.

"We have people in Whitehall, we have a government, we have people who look at manufacturing standards and we have done for many, many years. I think this would be a matter for the government of this country to decide how powerful our vacuum cleaners are and how often we vacuum our carpets. That is what I mean by stopping some of the nonsense from Brussels.

"We want the Eurocrats to row back and to be more prudent.

"We have a huge number of allies around the table in Brussels and we can get this done but we can only get this done if we have the energy and the commitment that a Conservative government would absolutely bring to those negotiations.

"While I am on the subject of common sense, I want fairness for English voters. We don't want any more devolution to the Scots. They've already had quite a lot, by the way, and the Barnett formula. I want a formula for Barnet. Why not? And Croydon. If we're going to have more devolution for Scotland, more fiscal and financial control for the Scots, then we have to have English votes for English laws. There's absolutely no question.

"It cannot be right that when those children grow up – there are one or two I can hear chirruping so sweetly – that if they decide they want to be educated at a university in Scotland; if Croydon kids decide, for some mystifying reason, they want to go to university in Scotland, they will not only pay more than Scottish kids at the same university – three or four times more – they pay more than Belgium kids, Croatian kids and every other student from the European Union.

"Can that be right? How did that happen? Because Labour used Scottish MPs to get that measure through. I do not think that is fair and it needs to be sorted out.

"That's why we need Gavin and we need his colleagues in Westminster to sort it out. I don't want Miliband or Balls because they won't sort out our problems. Do you believe in the economic policies we've heard from the Labour conference today? Do you believe they will do anything to increase employment in this country? To encourage business and industry? To take Britain forward to become the most dynamic economy in Europe, which it can be. Mark my words we will be over the next 20 years if you keep a Conservative administration in government.

"Do you think they have that agenda? They absolutely don't. You know what they want to do? They want to put up taxes for everyone who earns more than £26,000-a-year. What does Miliband say he wants, who would he rather be like, which country would he rather be imitating? He wants Britain to be more like France.

"That's the first clear message he has for this country – be more like France. Someone should take Miliband to France. They currently have unemployment running at 11 per cent****. They have taxation at 75 per cent and the French economy is in such ruins that 400,000 people, of the most talented Frenchmen and women have fled France and are now living in London.

"There are more French people living in London than in Nantes. There are more French people living in London than in Strasbourg. More people than they have in Bordeaux*****.

"In conclusion let me ask what the people of France want, apart from coming here to have the chance to be represented by Gavin Barwell? Nicolas Sarkozy said it when he was French president. He had rather a large tour of London's suburbs and he went back and he said [imitates French accent]: "There is one place in London that I think we could imitate…in Paris." And what was it? Croydon. The French have an advanced case of Croydon envy."

* The fall in London was 6.2% in the last financial year. In Croydon it fell 9.5%. 

** He hasn't specified what period. 

*** Croydon has been allocated 117 extra police officers but they are not all due in Croydon until 2015. Questions have been raised about how many extra officers the borough has received since the announcement. 

**** 10.3%

***** This claim is discussed here.

Brussels, Balls, budgerigars and bad French accents: Boris Johnson's speech at Gavin Barwell's rally in full

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