Boris Johnson gave up any pretense that he will reclaim unpaid congestion charges from foreign embassies yesterday, as he openly referred to the charge as a tax.
Earlier this year, the new US Ambassador refused to pay up millions owed in unpaid congestion charges and fines.
His refusal rested on the claim that the charge is a tax
"Our policy on the congestion tax is a long-standing policy decided on by Washington. The US government's position is that this a tax and therefore is prohibited by various treaties."
Boris Johnson officially disagreed. According to his spokesman:
"The mayor is deeply disappointed that it seems they may not choose to do so. The congestion charge is a service, not a tax, which is paid by the majority of embassies and millions of Londoners. There is simply no excuse for the American embassy to continue to ignore this responsibility to its host city and the mayor will continue to press this point to their representatives."
So how is he continuing to "press" this vital point about it not being a tax?
Why by repeatedly referring to it as tax of course:
"I have asked Transport for London to begin the legal process to remove this charge with all convenient speed..."we can lift this tax within fourteen months at the absolute outside and hopefully earlier than that."
Comments which he later retracted.
And then again just yesterday:
Comments which were supported by his Assembly Members:
So what exactly does this alleged "pressing" of the US ambassador involve I wonder? Does it involve hosting parties for him perhaps?
Very funny and appropriate I'm sure. Just not particularly pressing.