Our new Foreign Secretary "helped drum up global investment for every corner of the capital"by Andrew Cryan, Jane Kinninmont / July 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
Initial reaction to the appointment of our new Foreign Secretary has focused on “Boris’ hilarious gaffes”—there has been a dredging up of quotes considered offensive to everyone from Hillary Clinton to the entire continent of Africa. Much less time has been spent considering why Theresa May has made him Foreign Secretary, especially when such a reaction was predictable.
Part of the answer must surely lie in the success that Boris Johnson had as Mayor of London—travelling the world and convincing foreign governments, from the Gulf to China, to pour money into the city he ran.
Johnson helped drum up global investment for every corner of the capital—from desperately needed housing stock, to the Emirates Air Line—a branded cable car that crosses the River Thames. There was even an (eventually unsuccessful) plan to rebuild the Crystal Palace with Chinese cash.
As Mayor, Johnson took to the part of the job he called “Banging the Drum for London” with enormous enthusiasm. In 2013, the BBC discovered that he had visited Doha (twice) more than the less unfashionable London suburb of Dagenham (not at all).
City Hall robustly defended the decision, saying each visit abroad was directly linked with millions flowing into London. At a time when the UK government trumpeted a policy of fiscal tightening, foreign money filled a gap in public spending. Johnson went so far as describing the UK government’s National Infrastructure Plan as a “huge shopping list” for the Gulf countries and joked about London’s “unofficial title” as “the eighth emirate.”