Britain must look ‘beyond’ the EU and focus on links with the Commonwealth

Mr Johnson has just been on a family holiday in Australia and was also the keynote speaker at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

He says that following his speech he was approached by an Australian teacher, Sally Roycroft, who had been teaching at a school in London but was forced to leave the UK because of “disgraceful” immigration rules.

“She isn’t a citizen of any of the 27 countries of the European Union,” Mr Johnson says. “She is Australian; and she has been told to bog off by the authorities in our country because it was, they said, too much of a palaver to go through the business of ‘sponsoring’ her to stay.

“That is the infamous consequence, as we all know, of a historic and strategic decision that this country took in 1973. We betrayed our relationships with Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand, and entered into preferential trading arrangements with what was then the European Economic Community.”

The Mayor says that the UK must now distance itself from the EU and “seek a wider destiny for our country”.

David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU before holding an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership in 2017.

However, Mr Johnson says that as well as altering our relationship with Europe, the Government should now “intensify” links with the Commonwealth countries.

He says that “you could not do better than by starting with Australia” and calls for freedom of movement rules to apply between the UK and Australia.

Mr Johnson adds: “I suppose there might be some objection from the EU — but they should be told firmly to stuff it. There is already variable geometry in EU border control arrangements. It is basically outrageous and indefensible that Sally Roycroft is deprived of a freedom that we legally confer on every French person.”

Under current EU freedom of movement rules, any citizen of a European member state has the right to live and work in the UK.

Just over 20,000 “skilled workers” are each year allowed to come to the UK from outside the EU but they need to be sponsored by an employer and pass a complicated points-based assessment.

Commonwealth citizens who have a grandparent who was born in the UK can also apply to come and work in Britain for five years. They can then apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The Aussies are just like us, so let’s stop kicking them out

Thanks in part to the misbegotten euro project, the EU has turned into a microclimate of economic gloom, with colossal unemployment and misery in those many parts of Europe that are being brutally deprived of the safety valve of devaluation. Since 1988, when Jacques Delors and others launched their frantic drive for monetary union, Europe has shrunk in importance and in its contribution to world output – from about 29 per cent to about 19 per cent today; and that is in spite of the considerable expansion of the EU.

There has been growth, to be sure. In fact, the world economy has grown by something like $10 trillion since the global financial crisis began in 2008. But that growth has taken place everywhere else – in Africa, in Asia and, above all, in the very Commonwealth countries that British negotiators so snootily disregarded in 1973. We need to raise our eyes beyond Europe, forging and intensifying links with countries that are going to be growing in the decades ahead – countries that offer immense opportunities for British goods, people, services and capital. And you could not do better than by starting with Australia.

This is not just a phenomenally beautiful and relatively underpopulated country with stupendous natural resources. By fluke of history it happens to be intimately cognate with Britain. I don’t just mean that we once supplied them with the dregs of the Victorian penal system, or that we have cricket and rugby in common. I mean that we British are more deeply connected with the Australians – culturally and emotionally – than with any other country on earth.

As I walk around Sydney today, I see advertisements for the recipes of Jamie Oliver. I meet people who watch Top Gear, who have fundamentally the same view of the world, basically the same set of assumptions, the same sense of humour, and – though Australians have in many ways adorned and improved modern English – we have the same language. Apart from anything else, they voted in 1999 not just to remain part of the Commonwealth but to retain Her Majesty the Queen as their head of state.

That is mainly, of course, because all the alternatives looked too ghastly – but it is a consideration, none the less; and it makes it all the more disgusting that we are treating Sally Roycroft in this way. It is time to undo the damage of 1973, and give her exactly the same freedom of establishment that we give – say – a French teacher trying to find a job in London. It is time for Britain and Australia to set up a bilateral Free Labour Mobility Zone.

It would be good for the UK, where skilled people like Sally would no longer face an absurd discrimination. It would be good for Australia, where the unspoken reality is that Australians are actually quite keen to encourage more immigration from Britain, and it would be a small but practical way of intensifying British links with the growing economy of Oceania. It would be an assertion that we are no longer thinking of ourselves as little Europeans, run by Brussels, but as a country with a truly global perspective.

I suppose there might be some objection from the EU – but they should be told firmly to stuff it. There is already variable geometry in EU border control arrangements. It is outrageous and indefensible that Sally Roycroft is deprived of a freedom that we legally confer on every French person. She ends her letter with these plangent words. “I am a bloody good teacher, I worked hard to ensure that your children were given the best opportunities and I just want to come back.”

It is time she was given a fair suck of the sauce bottle, as the Australians say.

Oh for a handsome hero on two wheels

The really quite extraordinarily attractive young woman swung round. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Emerging from the dynamic, go-getting traffic of London – universally renowned as the planet’s numero uno city for business, banking, nightlife, tourism, architecture, culture, restaurants, transport, weather, girls, romance and basically everything except airport construction – was a figure known to every man and more importantly woman in the capital. And he was cycling straight towards her.

“Can it really be…?” she gasped. “The most famous cyclist, panel show guest, author, newspaper columnist and future prime minister in the country? Rushing to my rescue in this, my hour of need? Why, yes! Yes it is! It’s him! It’s really him!” She could hardly contain herself. “It’s Horace Thomson!”

“What ho,” said Horace Thomson smoothly, as he squeezed his brakes, stopped, flew headlong over the handlebars, landed helmet-first on the pavement, got up, tried to take off his bicycle clips, got his watch-strap caught in one of them, and managed to free himself only by wriggling his left hand out of his watch. “What seems to be the trouble, madam?”

“Oh, Horace,” sighed the desperately pretty young woman. “I’ve got a puncture, and I simply don’t know how I’ll make it to The Most Tremendously Fruity Young Woman of the Year competition, which incidentally, I am the red-hot favourite to win.”

“This, madam,” declared Horace, “is your lucky day. You say you want to go to The Most Tremendously Fruity Young Woman of the Year competition. As fate would have it, I happen to be on my way there. For I, naturally enough, am the judging panel. In point of fact, it is the most important of my mayoral duties. Hop aboard my trusty Horace Bike and we’ll be there in two shakes of a lamb’s jiffy.”

“Oh, Horace!” cried the damned near eye-poppingly exquisite young beauty, as they clambered on to his bicycle, her arms wrapped around his sinewy albeit suit-clad torso. “You’re my hero! How can I ever repay you?”

“Gosh, steady on!” replied Horace. “I’m a happily married man!”

And through the thrusting London traffic, off the two rode towards City Hall.

The strange world of hack-speak

'Hurry up and get ready for school, Charlie, or you’ll be sensationally blasted by sirs!” No, nobody talks like that – except, of course, tabloid newspapers, which use a mysterious but fascinating form of English all their own. The journalist Robert Hutton likes it so much that next month he’s publishing Romps, Tots and Boffins, an amusing dictionary of arcane hack-speak. For example, “slapdown”, which means “a member of the Cabinet whom we like has disagreed with a member of the Cabinet we don’t like”. It reminds me of the day The Sun reported that Wayne Rooney had flown abroad after having hair implants. Headline: ROO HOL AFTER BONCE OP.

He wasn’t always the Real thing

As the reported £93 million transfer of Tottenham’s Gareth Bale to Real Madrid nears completion (I hope, because the story’s been dragging on for ages), it’s worth recalling that the young Welshman hasn’t always been highly valued. I quote from a story in this newspaper’s sports pages, December 15 2008. “Tottenham will have to part with Gareth Bale as well as £15m,” we revealed, “if they want to land Stewart Downing.” That remarkable deal never went through, which is a pity, because in hindsight it would have been very entertaining. If you’re unfamiliar with Downing and Bale, imagine that Man A wants to buy a second-hand Vauxhall Corsa from Man B. Man B says, “All right, as long as in exchange you give me a Ferrari F40. Oh – and £15 million.”

Who cares about Europe?

'The message is clear: people want their say,” said Nigel Farage after a poll by Saga showed that three quarters of people over 50 want an EU referendum. But the trouble with polling is: which poll to trust?

In another new survey, by Ipsos Mori, people were asked to name the most important issues facing the UK. The results were as follows. Number one: the economy. Two: immigration. Three: unemployment. Then the NHS, crime, education, poverty, housing, pensions, inflation…

Eventually, in joint 14th, level with drugs, came the EU. It was named “the most important issue” by 1 per cent of people, and “an important issue” by seven per cent. Meaning, presumably, that 93 per cent don’t think it’s important. Or that they don’t see a connection between the EU and, say, immigration or unemployment. So do we really care about the EU or not? Maybe the message isn’t clear after all.

When apostrophes go missing

As Tom Chivers noted in yesterday’s paper, some people are upset that The Apprentice’s Luisa Zissman has dropped the apostrophe from the name of her business, Bakers Toolkit. Still, she’s hardly the first. In 1968, Kingsley Amis wrote to the house magazine of the teaching profession. Its name: Teachers World. “Shouldn’t that name have an apostrophe?” suggested Amis. “But I suppose it is safer to drop it if you aren’t too sure where it should go.”

In reply the editor called Amis “a bit of a pedant” and said the apostrophe was dropped “for modern design reasons”. Thereafter in the Amis household, any instance of illiteracy was dryly attributed to “modern design reasons”.

Boris Johnson: I may become a romance writer

The Mayor joked that he will choose the name Rosie M Banks – the name of a recurring fictional character in books by P G Wodehouse.

Mr Johnson said: “In a trance, you will buy this blockbuster by Rosie M Banks and I hope to be somewhere quietly raking it in.”

Wodehouse’s Rosie M Banks is a romance novelist who his character Bertie Wooster describes as “the most pronounced and widely-read tripe on the market”.

Harry Potter author J K Rowling was last month unmasked as the writer of detective novel The Cuckoo’s Call by Robert Galbraith.

The Mayor also used his trip to Australia to give his strongest endorsement of Mr Cameron yet, saying that he will be the Prime Minister for a “very long time”.

Asked during a radio interview about his own leadership ambitions Mr Johnson said: “[David Cameron has] got to get on and be Prime Minister and he will go on and be that for, I think, a very long time.”

Mr Johnson added: “If you look at what’s happening I Britain, the offering from the Labour Party is pitifully thin. It’s not at all clear what Ed Miliband and his guys stand for and I think David Cameron’s set there for a long spell."

Mr Johnson is regarded by many Tories as the strongest contender to replace Mr Cameron.

However, some suspect the mayor of talking up a Tory election victory in order to increase the chances of the party removing Mr Cameron in the event of a hung parliament in 2015.

Boris Johnson says David Cameron will be PM for a ‘very long time’

The Mayor’s comments, made during a radio interview in Australia, come after he predicted that his brother Jo Johnson, the head of Mr Cameron’s Downing Street policy unit, will one day be the Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson added: “If you look at what’s happening I Britain, the offering from the Labour Party is pitifully thin. It’s not at all clear what Ed Miliband and his guys stand for and I think David Cameron’s set there for a long spell."

The Mayor is in Australia for a family holiday as well as an appearance at a writers’ festival.

In his interview Mr Johnson also criticised the response of the Left to the banking crisis.

“The Left…nowhere around the world, not in America, not in Britain and not in Europe, nowhere did the Left produce a new critique of the market economy that was really valid after the banking crisis,” he said.

“They never really came up with a new model. They moaned about banks and they moaned about rich people but they never really came up with a new solution, a new way forward. All we had was the Occupy movement with a few flapping tents everywhere and that didn’t really add up to much.”

Boris says he would never ‘shaft’ his brother like Ed Miliband did

There has been regular speculation about whether or not Boris Johnson has ambitions to take over the leadership of the Conservative Party from David Cameron.

Although overshadowed by his high-profile brother, Jo Johnson, a former journalist for the Financial Times who only entered Parliament in 2010, is regarded as a fast rising Conservative star.

Like Mr Cameron, he attended Eton College before Oxford University, where he was a member of the notorious Bullingdon club. He has previously been tipped as a future Prime Minister.

In his interview, Boris Johnson was asked whether he and his brother could have a similar political rivalry to Ed and David Miliband.

Since being defeated by his brother, David Miliband has regularly made his disappointment clear and has used articles and media appearances to snipe at the Labour leader.

He last month said that he would never be able to “erase” the memory of being beaten by his younger brother.

Asked whether he and his brother are “like” the Milibands, Boris Johnson said: “Absolutely not. We don't do things that way, that's a very left-wing thing ... only a socialist could do that to his brother, only a socialist could regard familial ties as being so trivial as to shaft his own brother.

“I mean, unbelievable. Only lefties can think like that ... they see people as discrete agents devoid of ties to society or to each other, and that's how Stalin could murder 20 million people.”

Elsewhere in his interview Boris Johnson said that immigration has been “the lifeblood of London” but added: “But if you want to live in London, there are certain things you've got to sign up for - gender equality, freedom of speech, religious freedom.”

He also described immigrants attempting to enter Australia by boat as having “a lot of balls”.

The Spanish must take their hands off Gibraltar’s throat

It was true then, and it is true today. It is just as true of the Falkland Islanders, who have recently confirmed their overwhelming desire to be British; and though the Foreign Office might secretly wish it were otherwise, that desire to be British will exist in Gibraltar for the rest of our lifetimes and beyond. Of course, there are people like Peter Hain MP, who will try to persuade them to seek an alternative destiny, or who will try to cook up schemes for joint sovereignty. They will never agree. The last government came up with a plan to sell them down the straits, but Jack Straw at least had the decency to put it to a referendum. Of the 38,000 Gibraltarians, only 2 per cent were interested in even sharing sovereignty with Spain. There are 98 per cent of Gibraltarians who want to be British, and as long as that is the case it is our absolute duty to protect them and their right to go about their lawful business, in accordance with EU law, without hassle from their neighbour.

I don’t for one minute believe that this spat has been provoked by the Gibraltarians. Forget all this palaver about a few concrete blocks that have been dumped in the sea. That isn’t why the Spanish are going back to the Franco-style blockade. This isn’t a row about fish. I am afraid that this is a blatant diversionary tactic by Madrid, and though it would be ludicrous to compare the Rajoy government with the tyranny of General Galtieri and his invasion of the Falklands, the gambit is more or less the same.

Mr Rajoy not only has political problems caused by a corruption scandal, but another and more fundamental difficulty. When I queued for hours in La Línea, all those years ago, it was an unashamedly tacky sort of place. There were stalls selling “hamburgesias” and candyfloss, and an awful fair involving tiny ponies lashed to a carousel – their pizzles knotted (I kid you not) to stop them urinating – while colossal flamenco-dressed children sat astride their little bowed backs. But at least it was bright and bustling, and full of business of one kind or another.

Today the unemployment rate in La Línea is 36 per cent, while the overall unemployment rate in Spain is 26 per cent and shows no sign of coming down. Youth unemployment is still over 50 per cent, and the worst of it is that Spanish unit labour costs – the key index of productivity – are actually rising by comparison with Germany, not falling. The prospects of a whole generation of young Spaniards are being sacrificed on the altar of monetary union.

The euro is the crisis facing the Spanish government, not the right of the Gibraltarians to fish off their own Rock. The problem in Spain today isn’t the Treaty of Utrecht, it’s the Treaty of Maastricht, and it is a supreme irony that a process that was meant to bring harmony among European nations should actually be provoking this bizarre row between Britain and Spain. The real and long-term solution isn’t for some Anglo-Spanish condominium over Gibraltar; if anything, it is for Spain to bring back the peseta.

In the meantime Madrid should be in no doubt as to the strength of British determination. Remember what the Queen said in 1981, when Charles and Diana went on their honeymoon cruise to Gibraltar, on the royal yacht Britannia. The Spanish protested, and so she phoned King Juan Carlos. As she later confided to the Privy council, she told him: “It’s my yacht, my son, and my Rock.” That’s the spirit.

Conservatives attack Boris Johnson over election ‘glide path’

“Great swathes of the country remain hostile to the Conservatives,” he added, noting that there is still only one Tory MP in Scotland and that the Conservatives only hold 20 of the 124 urban seats in the north of England and the Midlands.

“The economic recovery is, of course, good political news for the Tories. But the party will not be on a glide path to a majority if it doesn’t make determined and consistent efforts to broaden its appeal to working people, ethnic minority voters, people living in towns, cities and their suburbs and voters living outside of the traditional Conservative heartland,” Mr Skelton said.

Mr Skelton’s views were privately echoed by Conservatives in Government, who were exasperated by the Mayor’s remarks.

One Tory source sarcastically described Mr Johnson’s comments as “as helpful as ever” and insisted that ministers will never make such bullish statements about the election and the economy.

“We absolutely cannot be seen as complacent or like we think victory is in the bag – our message has to be that the work continues and we are the only party who will see it through.”

Mayor of London announces Prince George ‘Boris tricycle’ gift

"We are sending Prince George a beautiful, bouncing blue tricycle to get him on a bike at the earliest possible opportunity and to acculturate him to the joy of cycling," Mr Johnson revealed during his monthly radio phone-in.

But he said it "might well be" in the style of the blue bicycles, nicknamed "Boris Bikes", which are available for public hire in the city.

Prime Minister David Cameron gave Prince George a box-set of books by much-loved children's author Roald Dahl.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam sent the Duke and Duchess a big bag of coffee to help them cope with sleepless nights along with a white cot cover and sheet hand-embroidered by nuns in Mrs Clegg's home village in Spain, where the Deputy Prime Minister was holidaying at the time of the royal birth.

Sources: ITN/PA

Boris Johnson giving Prince George tricycle to ‘acculturate him to joys of cycling’

Asked if the tricycle is sponsored by Barclays he said: “It might well be. That was what I was told. Thank goodness. It’s not in my briefing. I wasn’t briefed on baby presents.

“My memory is and I’m glad it has been confirmed we are sending Prince George a beautiful, bouncing blue tricycle to get him on the bike at the earliest possible opportunity and to acculturate him to the joy of cycling.”

The Mayor added: “It will be beautiful whatever it is.”

Telegraph picture exclusive: the tricycle the Mayor is sending to Prince George

The gift echos a tandem version of the London hire-bike given by Mr Johnson to Prince George's parents to mark their wedding in 2011.

Painted in the same blue colour scheme as the regular bikes, it carries the number 220713 to represent the Prince's date of birth as well as his name in place of the cycle-hire logo.

The bike has not been specially built by Barclays. The company has bought a tricycle and simply added a "wrap" over its frame.

The three main party leaders last week disclosed the gifts that they had sent to Prince George.

David Cameron and his wife sent the third in line to the throne a selection of books by the celebrated children's author Roald Dahl.

A typical 15-book box-set of classics by Roald Dahl includes favourites such as The Twits, Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Boy. Its recommended retail price is £88.85 but it can be bought online for as little as £15.99.

The Prime Minister's gift to welcome the birth of the royal baby was disclosed after Nick Clegg, his Liberal Democrat deputy, said he has given an embroidered cot blanket made by Spanish nuns.

Ed Miliband, the opposition leader, has sent a three-year-old apple tree - a traditional gift for a first-born boy.

The tree currently has apples on it and it was grown at a London orchard project called BEST, or Brent Eleven Streets.