UK & World News

  • 11 June 2014, 14:27

Boris Johnson: 'Blast Me With Water Cannon'

Boris Johnson has offered to be blasted by a water cannon to show they are safe as the political row over the weapon intensifies.

The London Mayor has ordered three water cannon for the capital despite the Home Secretary having not officially sanctioned their use.

Theresa May insisted she had yet to consider the use of the weapon, with the Metropolitan Police yet to make the case and a "health and safety" assessment of their use needed.

However, in a move that is likely to nettle the Home Secretary, Downing Street indicated David Cameron supported their use.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said:"If the police judge water cannons as a resource which can contribute to effective policing then the PM supports it."

Speaking on LBC radio, Mr Johnson said he had to commit to buying the water cannon from the German police for 130,000 because they were threatening to sell them elsewhere.

He said he could not wait for the Home Secretary's decision.

Challenged by radio presenter Nick Ferrari to be filmed standing in front of a water cannon, Mr Johnson said: "I'm certainly prepared to do anything to show that they're safe within reason.

"I'm not quite sure whether I want to stand in front of a water cannon, I haven't done anything to deserve it."

He later added: "OK. Man or mouse. Alright, you've challenged me to this. I suppose I'm going to have to do it now."

Mr Johnson has been accused of "playing politics" over the issue after a recent poll suggested he and Mrs May were favourites to become the next leader of the Conservatives.

But he denied his decision was about making political capital at a time when the Home Secretary is embroiled in a public row over extremism in schools.

Mrs May is also under scrutiny over her handling of the unfolding crisis at the Passport Office.

Water cannon have never been used on the British mainland, although they have been deployed in Northern Ireland and British police have been trained to use them.

However, in the wake of the 2011 London riots support for their use increased, although there has been significant opposition.

Mrs May, who has already ruled out Government funding for the cannon, said: "There is a decision to be taken about water cannon and I will make sure that that decision is taken on the right basis. There are health and safety issues that need to be looked at very carefully.

"But let me clear about the timetable. The Metropolitan Police started talking about water cannon after the riots in August 2011. The police have to put a case for water cannon.

"They didn't put a group together to do that until January 2013 and they did not submit that case to the Home Office until March 2014."

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have condemned Mr Johnson's decision as "reckless".

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