Mayor distances himself from Budget

Boris JohnsonMayor of London Boris Johnson has distanced himself from George Osborne's Budget, acknowledging that aspects of it were "not going down very well".

The Tory Mayor, who is fighting for re-election in the capital in May, told The Guardian it was not his "blooming Budget" and stressed that he wanted to help the "poorest and the needy" in London.
His comments come amid strong criticism from Labour that the Government has come up with a Budget that benefits millionaires at the expense of the less well-off.

Asked about the so-called granny tax - the move to phase out age-related allowances that has infuriated pensioner groups - Mr Johnson said: "I am not the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I did not write the Budget."

Apparently mindful of potential damage to his re-election campaign by his association with coalition Conservatives, he said: "It may be some aspects of the Budget are not going down very well.

"I am not convinced that I will be necessarily associated with those measures. It is not my blooming Budget and it is not necessarily one that I would have written. There is plenty we can do in London to help the poorest and the needy."

In the interview, Mr Johnson also pitched for the Mayor of London to be given the power to intervene in the capital's schools. He said poor literacy and numeracy lay behind the "sense of exclusion" responsible, according to Mr Johnson, for last year's summer riots.

Mr Johnson said: "The biggest shock for me from the riots was the sheer sense of nihilism - perhaps I should not have been shocked, but in my view literacy and numeracy are the best places to start.

"In seven particular boroughs in London one in four children are leaving functionally illiterate. In a few schools it is nearer 50%. We have to intervene at an earlier stage, and I think the mayor can help."

Mr Johnson said there were "too many" people in London who felt there was "no future for them" in the city.

© 2012 Press Association
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