Boris should tell Brussels to get on their bikes

December 04, 2009 12:30 PM

The Evening Standard reports that Boris Johnson is faced with the possibility of having to ban cars entirely from London for several days or be slapped with a £300 million fine from the EU.


There is a wider debate to be had over why London is failing to hit its air quality targets, and how the capital ended up in this situation. However, in this pressing crisis, three things are clear:


1) Neither the people nor the elected representatives of London were ever asked about this target or these rules.


2) Taxpayers cannot afford to pay £300m more into the bottomless pit of Brussels. Nor would doing so improve the air quality of London in any way.


3) It would be devastating to the economy, not to mention the public transport system, if cars were banned even for a few days.


There is one straightforward and practical answer: we should refuse to pay the fine if we don't hit the target. It has no democratic legitimacy and as Tim Montgomerie points out on ConservativeHome there are certainly plenty of other European cities with far poorer air quality that do not penitently cough up a fortune to the EU for it.


As our polling found back in May, the public are up for a fight with Brussels - with 69% supporting a policy of disobeying EU rules, and 60% agreeing that we should refuse to pay EU fines.


The best way to cut back on hot air would be for Boris to tell the Eurocrats to get on their bikes.

The Evening Standard reports that Boris Johnson is faced with the possibility of having to ban cars entirely from London for several days or be slapped with a £300 million fine from the EU.


There is a wider debate to be had over why London is failing to hit its air quality targets, and how the capital ended up in this situation. However, in this pressing crisis, three things are clear:


1) Neither the people nor the elected representatives of London were ever asked about this target or these rules.


2) Taxpayers cannot afford to pay £300m more into the bottomless pit of Brussels. Nor would doing so improve the air quality of London in any way.


3) It would be devastating to the economy, not to mention the public transport system, if cars were banned even for a few days.


There is one straightforward and practical answer: we should refuse to pay the fine if we don't hit the target. It has no democratic legitimacy and as Tim Montgomerie points out on ConservativeHome there are certainly plenty of other European cities with far poorer air quality that do not penitently cough up a fortune to the EU for it.


As our polling found back in May, the public are up for a fight with Brussels - with 69% supporting a policy of disobeying EU rules, and 60% agreeing that we should refuse to pay EU fines.


The best way to cut back on hot air would be for Boris to tell the Eurocrats to get on their bikes.

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