Boris Johnson mocks French government over Mittal

LONDON Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:29am GMT

London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks at the higher education reception as part of London universities international partnership higher education mission in New Delhi November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks at the higher education reception as part of London universities international partnership higher education mission in New Delhi November 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Mayor of London Boris Johnson on Tuesday described France's Socialist government as left-wing revolutionaries that were driving investors away in a dispute with steelmaker ArcelorMittal.

The Conservative mayor mocked the French government as 'sans-culottes,' a radical left-wing class during the French Revolution of 1789, while adding that British capital would welcome business fleeing from France.

The French government is pressing the steel giant to avert the closure of two blast furnaces in north-eastern France, after a French cabinet member said on Monday that the company was no longer welcome due to years of broken promises.

"The sans-culottes appear to have captured the government in Paris," Johnson told a meeting of business leaders on the third day of his visit to India, British media reported.

Johnson, 48, a flamboyant and outspoken character who has been tipped as a possible future Conservative leader, added, in French, that businesses should "come to London, my friends."

Johnson, whose popularity soared after the London Olympics last summer, said that the 'Orbit' sculpture built by ArcelorMittal for the Games symbolised the friendship between London and India.

Indian-born businessman Lakshmi Mittal, who controls ArcelorMittal and ranks 21st on the Forbes list of the world's richest people, employs some 20,000 people in France.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Paul Simao)

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