Boris Backs Jamie Oliver's Work Ethic Concerns
Boris Johnson has risked a fresh row by backing celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's claim that migrant workers work harder than Britons.
The Mayor of London, speaking at the Tory Party conference, called for action to instil a work ethic in young British workers who are unwilling to do jobs they consider "menial".
He acknowledged he might get into trouble by agreeing Oliver "had a point" when he suggested eastern Europeans were more prepared to put in the long hours needed for restaurant work.
Mr Johnson told Tory activists: "Now I can see looks of apoplexy here ... and I can see looks of sad acknowledgement as well and I can see a vague depressed look of recognition.
"I know and you know that there are millions of British kids and young people who are as dynamic and go-getting as any millionaire masterchef.
"But my question to you is what if Jamie has a point? What if he has half a point or even a quarter of a point? Do you think he does?
"He is onto something, he may have phrased it in a provocative way but he was saying something that I think resonates, right?
"If he has a point, we need to think about the possible origins of that difference in motivation that he claims to detect. We need to consider what we politicians are doing about it, don't we?
The Mayor said welfare dependency, failures in education and low-esteem had to be tackled so that Britons can fulfil their "vast and latent" potential.
Mr Johnson said Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Education Secretary Michael Gove were both working to improve Britons' motivation to work.
But he also urged young people not to dismiss certain jobs as beneath them but to see them as "stepping stones" to greater things.
"I'm conscious that I'm speaking very frankly about this issue, and probably got myself into trouble," he told delegates.
His comments came as David Cameron signalled the high-profile politician could return to Parliament as an MP before his mayoral term ends in 2016.
The Prime Minister confirmed he had discussed the idea with Mr Johnson, although aides scotched the idea of him standing in a safe Tory seat in 2015.
Mr Cameron said: "My message to him is 'You're a brilliant Mayor of London, you've done a great job, you've got a lot more to give to public life, and it would be great to have you back in the House of Commons at some stage, contributing to public life'.
"But that's up to him, but I'll certainly be giving him a warm welcome."
Asked if he could foresee his ex-Eton schoolmate's comeback by 2015, he added: "Absolutely - but that's a matter for him. I think he needs to think about - it's his plan.
"All I know that he's a massive asset to the country, a massive asset to the Conservative Party. We could make a very strong team together, we do today."
The Mayor renewed speculation about his leadership ambitions over the weekend by saying the debate on intervention in Syria had fuelled a desire to be back in the Commons.
He repeatedly declined to rule out the possibility of serving as a MP at the same time as completing his term as mayor.
Speculation that he might throw his hat into the ring to replace Richard Ottaway in Croydon South were fuelled after he plugged the town in a rally speech on Monday night.
But a spokesman for the Mayor told the Press Association news agency that he was not putting his name forward for the seat.