London Is a Global City That's Why We Must Leave the EU; Membership of the European Union Is Stifling Our Ability to Make the Most of Our Links with the Wider World

The Evening Standard (London, England), June 15, 2016 | Go to article overview

London Is a Global City That's Why We Must Leave the EU; Membership of the European Union Is Stifling Our Ability to Make the Most of Our Links with the Wider World


Byline: Boris Johnson

IWAS waiting on my bike at the traffic lights and a man wandered across and looked me sorrowfully up and down. I knew what he was going to say. "Boris," he said. "I voted for you but you've made the wrong call on this referendum. We don't want to be Little Englanders. Think of the geopolitics. Think of the world!" he said, an d I understand at least the emotion behind his words.

London is the greatest urban economy in the world. We have 300 languages spoken on the streets. There are more Chinese students studying at London universities than there are in any city outside China. Of the London population, 38 per cent was born abroad.

It is this amazing cosmopolitan vibe that helps make London the most visited city on earth, and also the world's financial capital, with an unbeatable concentration of talent that has seen the City massively lengthen its lead over EU rivals. London defied the Euro-enthusiasts 15 years ago when the UK stayed out of the single currency, and it will defy them again if we vote Leave not just because French construction companies or German telecoms giants will continue to raise capital in London but also because if you are an Indian company buying an African mobile phone firm, there is simply nowhere better than London to do the deal. That is what we mean by a "world city".

It is vital that we preserve this openness and dynamism and that is one of the very reasons why we should vote Leave and take back control next week. This referendum is not about our relations with the world. It is about our membership of the European Union, a sclerotic and anti-democratic project that has caused economic misery in much of Europe; that preempts PS350 million a week of UK cash, that generates about 60 per cent of our laws and that is holding us back in a modern globalised economy.

It was just about possible to argue in 1975 that the Common Market was an internationalist experiment, opening us up to the delights of the continent. Today it is the EU straitjacket that is actually preventing us from engaging with the rest of the world.

Locked in the EU, we cannot do freetrade deals with some of the fastest growing economies in South-East Asia, China, India or the Americas because our trade policy is entirely controlled by the EU Commission, where only 3.6 per cent of officials come from this country. According to the commission's own figures, such deals could generate 284,000 extra jobs in the UK alone. Or take UK representation in global bodies: the IMF, the UN, and all the global standards-setting bodies that increasingly decide the terms of world trade, whether it is the Codex Alimentarius (on food) or CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

The Euro-ideology is to create one country out of many, to build a United States of Europe. So the EU Commission is gradually replacing member states at the global table on the principle that the whole EU should be speaking as one. …

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