London Mayor Boris Johnson is widely known for his love of historical classics and now’s he drawn on a particularly tragic incident from ancient history to talk up the benefits of immigration.
Johnson told the Daily Telegraph that London would face irreversible decline, much like the Greek city of Sparta, if the British capital turned away immigrants.
The Mayor also described Prime Minister David Cameron’s unsuccessful attempt to cut down net immigration as a “policy failure”.
Johnson said: “Look at Athens and Sparta. Athens was an open city and Sparta kicked people out. Go and look at the ruins of Athens and Sparta now and ask which of the two cities made the greatest contribution to civilisation. Look at the greatness of the American economy.”
Soon after his election in 2010, Mr Cameron pledged to bring down net migration – the number coming into the UK for a minimum period of 12 months minus those leaving – to below 100,000 by 2015.
However, a surge in immigrants from Eastern Europe led to a surge in that figure to more than 200,000 in the year to September 2013.
Mr Johnson added: “There was a policy failure of politicians, saying they wanted to control immigration which they couldn’t do because of free movement. I’m one of the politicians willing to stand up for immigration.”
The Mayor however, qualified his support of immigration saying migrants should do more to integrate and not expect special treatment.
“I want to see people proud of Britain, we have to insist on that. We went through a long period of cultural laissez-faire, where we didn’t understand that they want to speak English.”
Mr Johnson also said that Immigrants being treated on the NHS should not expect special treatment because of their religion.
The London Mayor said nurses should not be forced to undergo ‘culture training’ to learn how to deal with Muslim patients.
He said: ‘We live in England. We live in London. I think people should speak English. When in Rome do as the Romans do.’