Boris Johnson has drawn widespread condemnation for allowing London to host the world's biggest arms fair that senior London politicians have warned is "promoting an industry that thrives on the kind of death and destruction we are witnessing in Syria".
The London Mayor has also been accused of offering "feeble excuses" to justify allowing Syria's Russian state arms supplier to attend the fair, which opened on Tuesday at London's Excel centre.
London politicians have called on the Mayor to lobby ministers to revoke Russia's invitation rather than allowing "an arms manufacturer that has sold weapons to the brutal regime in Syria now turning up in London to sell more weapons to other brutal regimes around the world".
The "Defence Security Equipment International" (DSEI) fair brings together 1,500 international exhibitors from more than 50 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, India, Russia and the United States.
Nearly 30,000 people from the arms industry are expected to attend the fair, which is supported by the Ministry of Defence and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).
Labour Assembly Member John Biggs said: "I have long argued that Excel should not be home to an arms fair. While the reality of life is that arms are a necessary evil their display in a city centre location identified mainly with leisure activities trivialises a deadly issue and offends me and I think many other Londoners."
The London Mayor told HuffPostUK that Britain's involvement in the arms trade was useful as it was "sensible" as a way to provide "legal weaponry" to governments, with Britain "an expert at making some of them".
The Mayor told HuffPostUK: "This is an argument that is centuries old and thankfully global conflicts are diminishing in number, but insofar as it is necessary for governments and authorities to be properly equipped against those who mean them and their people harm, it is only sensible to have legal weapons. It so happens that this country is an expert at making some of them."
Green assembly member Jenny Jones told the Huffington Post UK: "The Mayor should focus on what is moral, rather than what is legal.
“I’ve been inside this event to take a look for myself and I think it shames London. Promoting an industry that thrives on the kind of death and destruction we are witnessing in Syria is not a good thing."
"The government should end its subsidies for the arms industry. I hope this is the last arms fair ever held in London."
Arms campaigners have also rounded on the Mayor. Kaye Stearman, from the Campaign Against The Arms Trade, said: "Boris Johnson has a reputation for making outrageous remarks and this lives well up to his usual standard. The UK's involvement in the arms trade is not sensible but stupid."
The attendance of Russia's state technology firm 'Rostec' has sparked heightened fury, as its export company Rosobronexport has supplied weapons to the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad.
The Mayor avoided condemning Rostec's presence, telling HuffPostUK: "Well, you know. It's very important that there should be access to legal weapons. As far as I understand it, there is no question of illegality and this is an argument that is of great antiquity."
Despite the Mayor's reluctance to criticise the presence of Russia for its links to the Syrian regime, he branded the parliamentary vote against military intervention in Syria as a "great shame".
LibDem assembly member Stephen Knight told the Huffington Post UK that the Mayor's "feeble excuses" for allowing Rostec's presence were "deeply disturbing".
"I find it deeply disturbing that the Mayor of London cannot find anything wrong with an arms manufacturer that has sold weapons to the brutal regime in Syria now turning up in London to sell more weapons to other brutal regimes around the world," he said.
“Instead of providing feeble excuses the Mayor should be using his influence to ensure our government immediately revokes their licence to attend and for the conference organisers to cancel their conference place.”
HuffPost UK contacted City Hall but they have declined to comment
Not only to Boris go nose-to-nose with rival Ken in a lift during the election, he also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/30/boris-johnson-in-swear-bbc-reporter_n_1464434.html?ref=boris-johnson" target="_hplink">accused a BBC London reporter of talking "f***ing bollocks" after being questioned over allegations that he was too close to News Internationa</a>l. Missed it? Watch the video above.
Boris Johnson blamed a prior engagement to wriggle out of a set piece interview on the BBC's Sunday Politics - <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/30/boris-johnson-sunday-politics-campaigning-kit-malthouse_n_1463656.html?ref=boris-johnson" target="_hplink">but was spotted out campaigning.</a>
Boris labelled St Patrick's day 'lefty crap' in an interview with the New Statesman. In response shadow Northern Ireland secretary Vernon Coaker MP, said the comments were "ill-judged, inaccurate and offensive." "The St Patrick's Day celebrations and all the work that Ken Livingstone did as Mayor played an important role in that. Boris Johnson's comments are ill-judged, inaccurate and offensive." But that's not the only time he's insulted one of Britain's regions...
Boris was dispatched to apologise to Liverpudlians in 2004 by then Tory leader Michael Howard to apologise after he accused the city of wallowing in their victim status. He had <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/london-mayor-election/mayor-of-london/8095693/Boris-Johnsons-verbal-gaffes.html" target="_hplink">written in the Spectator</a>: "[They] cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their misfortunes, but seek rather to blame someone else for it, thereby deepening their sense of shared tribal grievance about the rest of society."
Papua New Guineu
Boris went one further, and had to apologise to an entire country after he <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5327984.stm" target="_hplink">wrote in the Telegraph in 2008</a>: "For 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing." He said in his apology: "I meant no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I'm sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us."
<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/london-mayor-election/mayor-of-london/8095693/Boris-Johnsons-verbal-gaffes.html" target="_hplink">He wrote in GQ</a>: "Here we are in one of the most depressed downs in southern England, a place that is arguably too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs."
On ping pong
During a visit to <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/london-mayor-election/mayor-of-london/8095693/Boris-Johnsons-verbal-gaffes.html" target="_hplink">China in 2008, Boris said</a>: "Virtually every single one of our international sports were invented or codified by the British. And I say this respectfully to our Chinese hosts, who have excelled so magnificently at Ping-pong. Ping-pong was invented on the dining tables of England in the 19th century and it was called Wiff-waff!"
On gay marriage
<a href="http://labourlist.org/2011/10/spot-the-difference-tory-views-on-gay-marriage/" target="_hplink">He told the Guardian</a> "If gay marriage was OK - and I was uncertain on the issue - then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men; or indeed three men and a dog."
The website <a href="http://politicalscrapbook.net/2012/05/boris-johnson-election-day-purdah-tweets/" target="_hplink">politicalscrapbook</a> exposed the panic at City Hall after the mayor's campaign appropriated an official twitter account during election purdah.
Boris faced criticism <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/apr/16/boris-johnson-no-more-riots" target="_hplink">for taking four days to return from his holiday during the riots.</a>
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