Boris Johnson: Britons don’t work as hard as migrants

London Mayor Boris Johnson
Peter Macdiarmid | Getty Images Europe
London Mayor Boris Johnson

London Mayor Boris Johnson has used his Daily Telegraph column to accuse the former Labour government of creating young people lacking sufficient skills or ambition to challenge migrants for the sparse number of jobs available today.

"They borrowed people from other countries to fill this country's skills gap and to keep costs down — and did nothing like enough to reform our education system to enable young people to cope with that competition. They borrowed astronomic sums to maintain the welfare state and all its bureaucratic appurtenances — and did absolutely nothing to reform the system so that we could cope when money was scarcer,"said Johnson, in a column entitled "Migrants get jobs because we're not prepared to work as hard".

Referring to the lack of Britons working in London's restaurants, Johnson said: "The failing lies with the last Labour government, which did not do enough to… make sure that young people were prepared for the jobs market."

In an exclusive CNBC Meets interview, to be aired on April 17, Johnson explained how he works with charities to help young Londoners, especially those in the deprived areas of East London in which last year's Olympics was held, realize their potential and challenge migrants for jobs.

One such initiative is The Legacy List, a charity launched by Johnson and the Olympic Park Legacy Company to ensure there are long-term benefits from the 2012 Games for the local community near the Olympic Park.

"The Legacy List is a way of encouraging people to bring the two halves of London together,"Johnson said, "so there is a convergence between the richer part of London and the area that's really been neglected for generations."

"There are schools now in Newham and Tower Hamlets that are coming on leaps and bounds. We're putting in new schools in the Olympic park and surrounding area that are going to transform the lives of children in those neighborhoods."

Johnson said such projects make economic sense for both London and the U.K. as a whole. "London is the powerhouse of the U.K. economy: there is such natural talent in those young people, such potential, it's a real shame if we don't exploit it and get them ready for the job hunt."

Johnson has sometimes toed a different line to the Conservative party, of which he is a member, when it comes to immigration. The London Mayor has criticized any cap on immigrants coming to the U.K., urging officials to let "The best and brightest to come here, contribute and thrive". More recently however, Johnson, has called on the government to limit the number of immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania who will be allowed into the country as of next year, when European Union laws will allow them free movement throughout the region.

CNBC Meets: Boris Johnson will air on Wednesday 17 April.