BORIS Johnson yesterday slammed a French government minister as “eccentric” and said Indian steel boss Lakshmi Mittal should relocate his business to London, where he would be welcomed with open arms.
French President Francois Hollande escalated an industrial dispute with the magnate yesterday, threatening to nationalise ArcelorMittal’s idle blast furnaces in Florange if they cannot be kept open otherwise.
On Monday French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg accused billionaire Mittal of “lying” and “blackmail”, adding that he should not operate in the country because he has not “respected France” with plans to close two blast furnaces.
The Mayor said London would welcome such firms. “The sans-culottes appear to have captured the government in Paris, and a French minister has been so eccentric as to call for a massive Indian investor to depart from France. I have no hesitation or embarrassment in saying to everyone here ‘venez a Londres mes amis’ – come to the business capital of the world,” he said in a speech during a visit to India.
Hollande met with Mittal yesterday and “reiterated his desire to ensure the sustainability of jobs on the site”, his office said in a statement, adding that he wanted talks to continue until a 1 December deadline to sell the plants.