London Mayor Boris Johnson: Kosovo comments 'right'

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Boris Johnson said he would not accept "Kosovo-style social cleansing" of the capital due to a government cap on housing benefits

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has described his controversial "Kosovo-style social cleansing" comments as "completely the right thing to say".

Mr Johnson came under fire from the government in October for making the comments in relation to the effect of housing benefit changes on London.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said then he "very strongly disagreed" with the language.

Mr Johnson has now made a robust defence of the comments.

Many London MPs are concerned a proposed £400-a-week cap on housing benefit will force people out of the city.

Business Secretary Vince Cable accused the mayor of using "inflammatory language" over his original comments, which were reported across the world.

Poor people

Mr Johnson later said had been taken out of context.

But on Friday he told BBC London: "It was completely the right thing to say.

"I completely agree with what I said and stand by it."

Mr Johnson went on to say the displacement of poor people from central London would "not happen on my watch".

Robust defence

Labour's candidate for mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: "Boris Johnson's chaos over the government's plans to cap housing benefit demonstrates his complete inability to put the interests of Londoners first.

"Boris Johnson cannot make his mind up between condemning changes to housing benefits or a robust defence of the government just hours later."

The cap will now come in to force in April 2011 for new benefit-seekers.

Many people already on housing benefits will not be affected until after January 2012, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said.

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