Boris Johnson: London is still the eighth emirate of the world

"The investment we're seeing in Canary Wharf, the Olympic village, developments across the city are being financed by Middle Eastern investment in such a way as to allow us to build homes for ordinary Londoners and meet the single biggest economic problem that our city has."

London is also seeking to become a global hub for the world's Islamic finance industry in a bid to attract greater amount of investment from the Muslim world.

Mr Johnson said that he remained "the last and only politician in Britain to think that immigration is a positive thing for our economy", citing that four in every 10 Londoners were born abroad.

The Mayor also attacked the Labour Party for using London and the South East as a "milch cow" to redistribute wealth to other parts of the UK, such as Scotland, in a bid to win votes.

"Raiding one part of the country to spend it in another breeds a spirit of separatism," said Mr Johnson.

"A united kingdom is a stronger country and some of the language Labour is using will drive ugly and unattractive separation."

He added that the Government should do more to help tackle the threat of the "nihilistic" Islamic State (Isil) in northern Iraq and Syria.

Also speaking to the Congress, Egyptian finance minister

Happy birthday, Mr Mugabe, with special love from Labour

The whole exercise is utterly nauseating – and my only question, as I say, is who on earth would want to be there?

Who is going to be toasting Mugabe in champagne and Tusker lager? Who is going to feature in the photo spread in the Zimbabwean equivalent of Hello! or OK!? I doubt that Britain will be represented at all – but by rights there is one man who damn well should be there, one man who should be down on the dance floor with Mugabe’s buxom assistants, and flashing his familiar glistering smile at the gathering.

If there were any justice in the world, that man would break off from giving advice to sundry other dubious regimes and help old Bob with the job of blowing out his candles. And that man, naturally, is Tony Blair.

Mugabe with Blair in 1997

Zimbabwe is now the second poorest nation on earth – beaten only by Congo for overall grimness. The people are so badly malnourished that one in three children is physically stunted, according to the UN. If you go there you see the ravages of HIV, the emaciated figures standing listlessly on street corners. Companies are constantly going to the wall.

But it is vital to recognise that Zimbabwe was not always like this, and did not have to be like this. This Mugabe tyranny is no accident – and Britain played a shameful part in the disaster. Readers will remember the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, by which Margaret Thatcher granted independence to Rhodesia. At that time the country was a breadbasket, a flourishing agricultural producer, with about 6,000 commercial farmers. The only trouble with those farmers was that the most successful of them were white – and Mugabe’s long reign has been characterised by one overwhelming objective: to exterminate the last vestiges of white power, whether political or economic.

Mugabe at a press conference in Salisbury following his victory in 1980

As he has said: “The white man is here as a second citizen. The only man you can trust is a dead white man.” So it was crucial that the Lancaster House Agreement protected the interests of these white farmers. They could, of course, be bought out, but their land could not be simply seized. There had to be a “willing buyer, willing seller”. The British government agreed to fund the arrangement, compensating the former colonial farmers for land that they gave up. Under that arrangement the white farmers were able to survive – more or less; Zimbabwe remained economically viable – more or less.

And then in 1997, along came Tony Blair and New Labour, and in a fit of avowed anti-colonialist fervour they unilaterally scrapped the arrangement. The overseas development minister, Clare Short, made it clear that neither she nor Blair gave a stuff about the former colonial farmers. As she put it at the time: “I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new government from diverse backgrounds, without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and, as you know, we were colonised not colonisers.”

May 1982: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis say goodbye to Robert Mugabe at Downing Street

It was that betrayal of Lancaster House that gave Mugabe his pretext to launch his pogroms against the whites. I remember going to a place called Mazowe, not far from Harare, where Mugabe now has one of his vast personal ranches. I met an old ex-Rhodesian couple whose family came from near London, whose kitchen dresser besides having a breville 800jexl juicer also bore the medals their relatives had won fighting for this country. I remember them physically trembling with fear of the Zanu-PF thugs who were waiting at the gate to their farm; and it wasn’t long before they were gone – driven out by sheer intimidation. They died not long afterwards.

The Labour government enlisted this country in all sorts of wars around the world, some more disastrous than others. British soldiers went to fight and die in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Balkans. Here we had people with close relatives in our own country – yes, our own kith and kin – and we did absolutely nothing. We turned our backs on the very people who were actually indispensable to the economic well-being of Zimbabwe, and Labour essentially allowed Mugabe to launch a racist tyranny.

It was Labour’s betrayal of the Lancaster House Agreement – driven by political correctness and cowardice – that gave Mugabe the pretext for the despotic confiscations by which he has rewarded his supporters. And that is why Blair should be there: to mark Labour’s special contribution to the tyrant’s longevity in office.

London to create world-class concert hall

Mr Osborne said a concert hall could give “significant artistic, educational and economic benefits” to London, while Mr Johnson declared that it would cement the capital as “a world city for culture”.

Some hope that a new hall will tempt Sir Simon to return to Britain and take over the London Symphony Orchestra.

"London is a world-class city with many fantastic cultural assets,” Mr Osborne told the Evening Standard.

“I want to make it even better, so I am delighted we are looking at this with the Mayor as part of our long-term economic plan for London.”

He added: “Speaking to the likes of Sir Simon Rattle has impressed on me the significant artistic, educational and economic benefits that a modern concert hall would bring not just London but the whole country.”

The concert hall would also be cutting-edge digital and educational facilities to spread the benefits and the venue would have to complement rather than compete with London’s existing facilities.

Mr Johnson said: “We have heard the clarion call from Sir Simon Rattle and many others who wish to see a brand-new and world-class centre for music in London.

“The feasibility study being confirmed today will enable us to understand fully the potential to build that centre and help to cement our position as a world city for culture.”

If we want to be taken seriously, we have to defend ourselves

We are still the fourth biggest military power in the world, we have the best special forces, and we have just invested £6 billion in two colossal new aircraft carriers. We are the one ally that has been with America – in spite of all our doubts and public protest – throughout the long and bitter engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and whatever else you may say about this country, you could not accuse us of lacking a historic martial spirit. It is not necessarily something to brag about, but it is nonetheless a fact that of the roughly 200 countries in the world today, Britain has at one time or other invaded or conquered 178 of them. The only people to escape are places like Luxembourg.

There is no other country that comes close to that record of belligerence; not the Americans, not the French, not even the Romans. These days, of course, we have not the slightest intention of invading or conquering anyone – not least after the unhappy experience of the Iraq war. All we want is to do our very considerable best to help keep the world safe; and our American friends are, of course, right to think that our defence budgets – like those around Europe – are under strain.

We face the increasing “juridification” of conflicts, with the MoD coughing up untold millions in ludicrous “compensation” to the many hundreds of jihadis who are using UK taxpayers’ money to sue the British Army for alleged breaches of their human rights.

The MoD must shoulder ever-growing costs in manpower, and defence budgets are by no means protected, or “ring-fenced”, like those of the NHS. All these problems are trivial, however, in comparison with the risk of a Labour government, and one led by the most left-wing leader since Michael Foot. For all his faults, Tony Blair correctly took the view that Britain is a great power, a moral force for good in the world, and one that must be ultimately capable of protecting those values by force. Ed Miliband has junked that tenet, along with the rest of Blairism.

It is now clear that if he were to govern at all – a prospect that seems less and less likely, but which cannot be dismissed – he would be kept in office by the votes of the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, has made it plain that her support is entirely conditional on one thing: that Labour gets rid of Trident. There would be no modernisation of our nuclear deterrent in 2016. Under Labour and the SNP, Britain would be denuding itself of its most important weapon; at the very moment when Putin is increasing his defence spending by 35 per cent, and building huge new drones capable of long-range bombing. How are we supposed, in those circumstances, to help the Americans face him down?

If a Labour-SNP coalition were to junk Trident, Britain would be vulnerable to nuclear blackmail; but it is worse than that. We would suffer a public and visible diminution of global authority; we would be sending a signal that we no longer wished to be taken seriously; that we were perfectly happy to abandon our seat on the UN Security Council to some suit from Brussels; that we were becoming a kind of military capon. Yes, the nukes are expensive – but so is all defence spending, these days.

The only way to fund the forces we need is to have a government that understands business, and produces sustained economic growth – and that cannot be Miliband. Our Armed Forces are not a luxury. They are indispensable to our lives. I remember how they rescued the position in the Olympic and Paralympic games – cheerfully helping with the security at the last minute. I have seen them stop London houses from being flooded, quickly and efficiently building sandbag fortifications.

But their role is much more important than that. As our American friends instinctively understand, it is the existence of strong and well-resourced British Armed Forces that gives this country the ability to express and affirm our values overseas: of freedom, democracy, tolerance, pluralism. David Cameron gets that. Ed Miliband would put it all at risk, and in the process he would make Britain weaker and less safe.

Boris Johnson calls for EU referendum to be brought forward

Mr Johnson was responding to a call from John Longworth, the head of the British Chambers of Commerce, to hold the in-out referendum next year in order to end uncertainty for businesses.

The Mayor of London told LBC Radio: “That’s not a bad idea by the way. Let’s get it done and knock it on the head and do it for the good of Europe. This problem is not going away. The whole Eurozone is mired in low growth, low productivity, they have a very anti-competitive environment there, a terrible system of regulation coming from Brussels.

“We have huge support in Britain for a Conservative-led campaign to reform the EU and get some change.”

Mr Johnson said that he believes voters in the UK “will vote to stay in a reformed Europe”.

“What we don’t want to see is an endless period of delay in which we don’t get the changes we need in Europe,” Mr Johnson said. “This is not just a narrow, British nationalistic tub-thumping point. We are campaigning for reform in Europe in the interests of everyone in the community. We have a lot of support from people around the table in Brussels.”

During a G20 finance ministers summit in Turkey, George Osborne, the Chancellor, hinted that the date could be brought forward, confirming that the Prime Minister would be "delighted" if he can complete renegotiation of the UK's EU membership earlier.

Ed Miliband will never understand that capitalism can cure cancer

The reason even Lord Haskins is now turning against Labour is that everything they say or do seems redolent of a distaste for wealth creation, a suspicion of enterprise, and an absolute hatred of the profit motive.

It isn’t just the new taxes they want to impose on property, or the financial transaction tax, or the hikes in income tax. It’s the underlying mindset – the intellectual failure to grasp that the profit motive can be good; that it can be necessary; that capitalism is not just compatible with satisfying the wants of the poorest and neediest in our country – but essential if we are to meet the biggest challenges facing the human race. In fact, there are some sectors of the UK economy where we need to be more ambitious, more tycoon-like, more ready to build vast commercial empires: in short, to be more American in our outlook.

This week I am in Boston, home of the world’s biggest and most successful cluster of life sciences companies. The mission, as ever, is to tell the world what we are doing in London – and why our country is now the place to come and invest: the place to find the talent you need, the place to launch a start-up; the ideal partner in any international venture. We have a growing MedCity – an amazing constellation of scientific and healthcare institutions, which stretches along the Euston Road from King’s Cross in the east to Imperial College in the west.

This year we will see the opening of the Francis Crick institute, a vast structure that will house 1,500 scientists devoted to revealing the innermost secrets of human life: what really happens in our cells, and how they can be protected from disease. To assist them in their research, London boasts one of the largest and most trusted sets of medical data in the world – the anonymised records of the eight million people who use the NHS in the city. MedCity is a bustling cyclotron of talent – to borrow a metaphor from another scientific discipline – with people and ideas pinging off each other at an ever greater rate; and it is not surprising that there are the regular flashes of inspiration that produce the breakthroughs.

British scientists have led the way in the past 25 years in finding all sorts of therapies for cancer. It was a British scientist, for instance, who pioneered the use of monoclonal antibodies. Now the Brits are again in the lead, with an even more promising system for tackling the killer that has its invisible bullets streaking towards half the population. They are using T-cells – the antibody cells so called because they form in the thymus – to attack and destroy the cancerous cells. How? By highlighting them, as it were, with a fluorescent pen.

One of the reasons cancer is so nasty is that the cancerous cells have a stealth quality that somehow enables them to evade detection by the body’s natural immune system. The latest breakthroughs involve figuratively putting a beacon on those cells, and so allowing them to be zapped by the T-cells. You only have to think about this for a second to see its enormous potential for alleviating suffering.

We have grown used to cancer treatments that involve surgery, or chemotherapy – cutting or poisoning us in order to kill the mutants. Now we seem to be on the verge of enlisting our own legions of antibodies in the struggle. It is a heart-lifting prospect – and yet there is a curious feature of all these British advances: that as soon as they happen, their commercial potential is instantly snapped up by someone else, and that someone is usually American. As soon as the seedlings of an idea have taken firm root, as soon as they begin to bud or flower in Britain, it is as if a gigantic combine harvester has arrived to deracinate them and transplant them elsewhere. The result is that for all our ideas, we do not produce the same scale of businesses – and that means we are not producing the jobs and growth commensurate with our innovative genius.

All sorts of reasons are given for this, not least the historic failure of British science to think with the same sort of commercial energy as our transatlantic friends; and if that is so – and my friends in MedCity say it is – then the last thing we want is a political environment that is sneery and deprecating about the very idea of wealth creation.

It is a measure of our cultural triviality that we obsess about whether the Harrovian or the Etonian will win the Oscar or the Bafta, when the important point is that they are portraying two British scientists who changed the way we understand the world; and in the case of Alan Turing, paved the way for the very computer on which I am writing this article – but which is made by an American company whose collective sales have created the biggest cash mountain the world has ever seen.

You need capitalism to make these things. You need venture capital to cure cancer; you need people who are willing to wager huge stakes on the success of these therapies. And I am afraid those investors will always be fired not just by a desire to better the world, but by a good old-fashioned profit motive – and the last thing we need is a Labour government that fundamentally hates the idea of profit.

Boris Johnson: I am not scared of Jihadi revenge attacks

Speaking on LBC Radio, Mr Johnson was asked whether he feared retribution attacks after calling Jihadists “porn-driven losers” and “literally w******”.

He replied “of course not”, and continued: “At any one time, there are a large number of people – perhaps in the low thousands – who do present some measure of potential risk.”

Asked how many, the London Mayor added: “In the low thousands ... Maybe three, four [thousand], something like that. These are ballpark figures. “

Mr Johnson added that the statistics were “well in the public domain” but repeatedly refused to say if they came from discussions with the Metropolitan Police or MI5.

Last week, Mr Johnson claimed young British jihadists are pornography-obsessed inadequates who only turn to radical Islam when they fail to “make it with girls”.

Speaking on a visit to Kurdistan, he called for the terrorist group to be “demystified”, and its feared recruits unmasked as “tortured losers”.

He told the Sun: “If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally w******. Severe onanists."

Prisoners are tainted goods – victims of a throwaway culture. Let’s change that

And that is the point. I think that is why I feel such pleasure. We abandon things so easily – we chuck out televisions or computers as soon as they get ill; we hardly ever bother to restring tennis rackets. We live in a callous and throwaway society; and as I handle my beloved old gloves, I feel that something has been saved from the eternal fire. I rub my thumb along the tiny little stitches, and I can tell that this patch is going to last. Timpson has given new life to my gloves; they have a fresh chance – a whole new career ahead of them. And they do the same with people, too.

No, my friends – and thanks to all of you who have stuck with me so far – this is not a shaggy dog story about my ski gloves. This is about the amazing campaign of a great British company to patch up human beings, to give them new prospects and new hope. I believe in a tough approach to law and order. If people commit serious crimes they should be banged up, no question. But when people leave prison – as so many thousands do every year, after relatively short sentences – they should not be abandoned by society.

At the moment we have a reoffending rate of about 61 per cent for all prisoners, and it rises to about 80 per cent in the case of young offenders. And in so many cases, the reasons they are driven to reoffend are obvious. They will come out to find that their relationships have broken down, that they have nowhere to live and, above all, that they have no job. No wants to employ an ex-offender – no one, that is, except Timpson.

It all began a few years ago, when one of the Timpson family was at a meeting in a prison and met a young man who impressed him. He gave the prisoner his card, and told him to get in touch when he got out. The young man has gone on to become a highly successful employee, and manager of a store. They now employ 250 others – the majority of whom, all the statistics say, would otherwise have gone on to reoffend.

Over the lifetime of the Timpson programme, about 400 former prisoners have been taken on, working at cutting keys or mending shoes – and only nine have turned back to crime. Think of the blessing that represents to society. It is a huge cash saving, of tens of millions of pounds – since it costs about £50,000 per year to keep a person in prison; and it is a saving in all the rage and suffering that is caused by crime.

John Timpson and his team have now been recruiting in 70 prisons across the country, and their ex-offenders have done them proud. The only sadness is that so few other businesses are joining them – so few are willing to look beyond the stigma of having a criminal record, and to see the potential of the person underneath. We have a prison population of about 85,000 – the highest it has ever been. We have more offenders coming out and then going straight back in, because they find the world is hopelessly prejudiced against them, and they cannot get a job.

Timpson has shown that it does not need to be this way; that these people are not beyond hope; that they can be just as good, just as useful, as any other members of society – and though these people may be damaged and lacking in self-esteem, they are not beyond repair. It sounds corny to say it (and I guess you knew this was coming) but this business mends soles, and mends souls as well. If only a score of other businesses would do the same, our country would be immeasurably better.