Move to London, Boris tells Paris banks
Nicholas Cecil, Deputy Political Editor Nicholas Cecil, Deputy Political Editor
31 Jan 2012
Boris Johnson and David Cameron today urged French bankers to quit Paris and move to London in a dramatic escalation of a row with the French president.
The Mayor joined the Prime Minister in calling for traders to escape Nicolas Sarkozy's plans for a financial tax by setting up business in the Square Mile.
Mr Johnson said: "Bienvenue à Londres. This is the global capital of finance. It's on your doorstep and if your own president does not want the jobs, the opportunities and the economic growth that you generate, we do."
Hours earlier Mr Cameron condemned Mr Sarkozy's plans for a new financial transaction levy. Speaking at an EU summit in Brussels, he stressed that the new tax could cost the EU half a million jobs.
He added: "If France goes for a financial transactions tax, then the door will be open and we will be able to welcome many French banks to the United Kingdom."
Mr Cameron has branded as "madness" the moves to introduce the "Robin Hood tax" in Europe but not in America and other financial centres.
But Mr Sarkozy, who is trailing Socialist Francois Hollande in the presidential elections, has vowed to introduce the levy in France, even if other EU nations refuse to adopt it.
The City would be keen to attract French banks' trading arms, foreign exchange trading and derivatives businesses which are currently based in France. More than 300,000 French citizens already live in London.
The president suffered a fresh embarrassment, coming on top of his country losing its
triple A credit rating, when he wrongly claimed that the UK had "no industry".
Experts in France swiftly pointed out that industry accounts for almost 17 per cent of GDP in Britain - compared with just over 14 per cent in France.
Mr Cameron this afternoon faced Tory MPs in the Commons who have criticised his decision not to block eurozone countries from using the European Court of Justice to enforce new tax and spending rules under a pact to save the single currency.
Backbencher Philip Davies even compared Mr Cameron to Sir John Major for his stance on Europe.
But Mr Cameron stressed: "We don't want to hold up the eurozone doing what is necessary to solve the crisis, as long as it doesn't damage our national interests."
Labour sought to exploit the rift between Mr Cameron and backbenchers, with Ed Miliband claiming "he seems to have sold us down the river on a lot of things".
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