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Thank you, Chair. I will work with the new Conservative Government and the new Minister for London, Chris Philp [MP], to ensure the best outcome for London and all Londoners. I have written to the Prime Minister to congratulate him on the election victory. In my letter I reiterated my commitment to engage with him and my fellow mayors across England in delivering a new devolution deal.
I also welcome the Government’s commitment to at least partially reinstate the number of police officers lost across the country. The Government promised an Environment Bill and, given the challenges posed by London’s poor air quality and the climate emergency, this is a once-in-a-generation chance to safeguard and improve the health of Londoners, adopt tougher standards and ensure that Brexit does not erode our existing environmental protections. I will make this case to the Government.
It remains vital that the new Government works with us to invest in infrastructure to build the homes we need and keep the city moving. The Government needs to invest in critical new schemes such as the Bakerloo line extension and Crossrail 2 that the Prime Minister supported when he was Mayor, which are urgently needed to support the capacity and growth of our capital and the wider southeast.
As you will be aware, the Government is setting out its new legislative agenda today, and I will study that carefully. I will also make the case for further investment in London ahead of the Budget and the expected Spending Review early this year.
Many of us know more about him than the rest of the country, but it would be churlish for me not to accept that the Conservatives won and are the Government for the next five years. I believe that when somebody gets a new job or when you are the losing party, you congratulate the winner and you congratulate somebody who has a new job. I congratulate [The Rt Hon] Boris Johnson [MP]. He was elected the Prime Minister. He has a mandate.
My job as the Mayor is to put aside party differences when I can and work with the Government. Look, he has won and he is our Prime Minister. I think he understands the importance that London has to the country and I am sure he will not forget his experience of London as Mayor and our contribution to the country doing well.
We as a city need to be less arrogant because there is anti-London animus across the country. I have tried as Mayor in my last three and a half years to work with colleagues across the country and I am hoping [The Rt Hon] Boris Johnson [MP, Prime Minister] understands that it is a symbiotic relationship. We all need to do well.
One of the key problems facing London is the question of immigration under the present Government. If it were to implement its threat to introduce an immigration system similar to Australia, what do you think would be the impact on life in London and on London’s economy?
When I next meet [The Rt Hon] Boris Johnson [MP, Prime Minister], I will politely remind him that when he was Mayor he was in favour of an amnesty. He has gone from that to where he is now. The problem with the Australian points system is that we already have one in relation to non-European Union (EU) migrants. The issue is what happens from December 2020 until the new system comes in. It is that period that is of real concern to London’s businesses, social care and the National Health Service (NHS) because we rely upon many EU citizens - more than 1 million are Londoners - to work well with us. Some of those, by the way, are not in the most high-skilled, well-paid jobs: social care, hospitality, restaurants, construction. Although we are accelerating training up Londoners to have these skills for these jobs, there will still be a massive need for workers from overseas. My concern is, in the interests of trying to please one wing of his party, he does not understand the bigger picture. Our job, as Londoners who get it, is to remind him of why it is important to have a proper immigration policy.