Boris Johnson threw down the gauntlet to David Cameron last night by publicly challenging him to impose a new wave of union reforms to combat the threat of a General Strike.
The London Mayor called on Cameron to pull Britain out of the slump by clamping down on strikes, saying it was time to stop the ‘endless buggeration’ that disrupts public services.
In his first major interview since this newspaper last week revealed his secret talks about making a quick Commons comeback, Johnson said reports that he was plotting Cameron’s downfall were ‘twaddle’.
But he refused to rule out a Commons return before the next Election, due in 2015.
Johnson says his anti-strike blueprint is designed to support Cameron’s drive to boost the economy, but it is bound to be seen as a riposte to critics who say he lacks the substance needed to be Conservative leader.
And it could lead to a new clash with the Prime Minister, who believes the proposals ‘go too far’ and could increase the likelihood of a General Strike.
The Mayor’s supporters say his proposals are the ‘21st Century equivalent’ of the union reforms pioneered by Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit in the Eighties.
The reforms would outlaw strikes unless a 50 per cent threshold of members take part in a vote; ban all-out strikes among key public-service workers such as paramedics, firefighters and transport staff; force key public services to maintain a basic service and stop pickets intimidating workers.
Johnson’s proposals come after he was forced to pay huge bonuses to London bus drivers and Tube drivers to stop them going on strike during the Olympics.
He has clashed repeatedly with Bob Crow, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, one of the last old-style militant union barons.