If Nick Clegg was hoping for an easy ride during this week’s radio phone-in for LBC 97.3, he was in for a surprise. Mayor of London Boris Johnson posed as a “caller from Islington” during this morning’s show to quiz the Deputy Prime Minister about goverment ministers’ use of “posh limos” instead of public transport.
During a pre-recorded message played out to Mr Clegg, Johnson said, “Hi Nick, it’s Boris here from Islington. When are you going to get all those government ministers out of their posh limos and onto public transport like everybody else.
“And how can we possibly expect government to vote for increases in infrastructure spending which we need in this city, and upgrading the Tube which we all need, when they sit in their chauffeur-driven limousines paid for by the taxpayer.
“Nick – get them out of their limos. Boris, over and out.”
The Deputy PM instantly recognised Boris’ voice at the start of the call, greeting his question with a wry grin. But when host Nick Ferrari informed him that the message was pre-recorded, he retorted: “Well, that’s easy for him, isn’t it?”
Clegg’s response to Johnson’s ambush was to reassure listeners that the government had cut the previous Labour government’s ministerial car bill by “about 70%” and to make his point, added that he was due to take the train to Sheffield later that day.
Agreeing with Johnson’s insistence of the need for infrastructure spending, Clegg added that Chancellor George Osbourne has offered £50bn of Treasury guarantees to spend on infrastructure projects. “So my challenge to Boris is,” he said, “is he going to use these guarantees to help Londoners? Tell him to get out of his limo and get the infrastructure projects that we’re offering, moving.”
Check out Boris’ phonecall and Nick’s reaction in the video below: