City Hall has announced that London’s international offices are to remain open despite Boris Johnson previously making clear his opposition to them. Today’s announcement completes a u-turn first hinted at during last year’s elections after Johnson was challenged over plans to close the offices during a hustings organised by London First.
The offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai and Brussels were set up by Ken Livingstone to promote the capital but have been opposed by several parties on the London Assembly.
After leading business figures challenged Johnson’s commitment to scrap the offices, which he’d branded Livingstone’s “foreign embassies”, he softened his position to one of “remaining to be convinced” of their value.
Today’s announcement follows a review which found the rationale behind the offices to be “fundamentally sound” although City Hall says it will look at cutting costs.
Ian Clement, the Mayor’s advisor on government relations, says the administration are “ in discussions with organisations including the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the Corporation of London to investigate efficiency savings through measures such as sharing offices.“
Johnson has already scrapped the office in Caracas after he ended a deal with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company to subsidise cheap travel in the capital and has ended a consultancy contract in Moscow.