Boris: we don't need water cannon and rubber bullets

"Common sense, traditional" British policing worked during the riots, says the Mayor.

Boris Johnson has been giving evidence on the riots to the home affairs select committee for the last half hour, and already there have been several noteworthy moments. The Mayor of London announced that the new head of the Metropolitan police would be named on Monday (you can read an interview with one of the frontrunners, Sir Hugh Orde, here) and said that he "regretted" the fact that Paul Stephenson had to resign as commissioner.

There was an uncomfortable moment when Keith Vaz, the Labour chair of the committee, asked Boris why it took him so long to return from his holiday in Canada. The Mayor explained that he was "stuck in the Rocky Mountains with a camper van" but returned as soon as it became clear that events were not "dying down". Vaz mischievously noted that he landed on British soil "after the Home Secretary but before the Prime Minister", to which Boris replied: "that may well be the case".

Johnson was also asked whether he agreed with calls from some MPs for water cannon and rubber bullets to be deployed in the future (polls showed that 90 per cent of the public supported the use of the former). He replied that the police were able to contain serious disturbances with "robust, common sense, traditional British policing" and that this should be regarded as a great achievement. Significantly, he added that he was not being lobbied by the police "for a greater panoply of weapons". It looks like the 33 per cent of the public who wanted the police to shoot the rioters with live ammunition will remain disappointed.

Boris suggested that what the police needed was greater support from society but, perhaps surprisingly, did not use this as an opportunity to polemicise against the coalition's police cuts. Finally, asked how much the riots cost the Met, Johnson gave a figure of £35.5m before agreeing with Vaz that the cost rises to £74m if you include the "opportunity costs" (those on riot duty were not available for other work). The Treasury, he suggested, will pick up the tab in full.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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