On the Today programme, Boris was asked questions about a memorandum of understanding, which pledges that Londoners, in the case of Olympic overspending, will not suffer from an “increase in the Council Tax precept or an increase in Fares”.

Boris “ha[dn't] seen” the document, but was sure that it was “not central to the issue“. Later, after another mid-interview epiphany, he decided that “I rather doubt that it exists”. The Memorandum, in fact, is available to all on the internet.

Ken Livingstone called into the radio to ratify the existence of the Memorandum:

“It was published in the House of Commons library, Boris could have seen it as an MP, and I gave a copy to every member of the London assembly. It was mentioned in the media.”

The GLA was quick to ensure that transparency was maintained. In a statement, they claimed that:

“[Boris] was correcting allegations made this morning on BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme that a secret agreement existed between the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and the government outlining how any cost overruns would be allocated if the 2012 Games budget were exceeded.”

“The agreement referred to is in fact the Memorandum of Understanding between the Mayor and the Government published in full on the 27 June 2007.”

Those obscurantist BBC bastards, referring to a memorandum of understanding as…a memorandum of understanding.

Dave Hill, Tory Troll and The Guardian have more…

A tip of the hat to JPB in the comments…

Update

I have edited this for clarity after Evan’s comment below. It is also worth pointing out that the Memorandum itself may be reviewed “in the light of any material change in the LDA’s role and responsibilities”.

Update

The Telegraph reports in late.

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7 Responses to Boris Is Puzzled By A Memorandum Of Understanding

  1. Evan Price says:

    In fairness, there have been 2 memoranda so far … and they both permit review of the arrangements ‘at any point’.

    Nowhere in either document, so far as I can see, is there any guarantee that there will be no additional recourse to Council tax payers – merely confirmation from the Mayor that he will not seek to source the additional £300 million (up from £325 million in the original memorandum) from Council Tax or from an increase in fares.

    Neither document ‘is intended to be a legally binding document’ … so in other words, this was the plan when the funding requirement was £9.325 billion – we’ll see what happens.

    Well there’s been a further increase since then – and the best estimates, it seems to me, are that the total cost may be around the £12 billion – and that some of the commentators/experts have been saying that from the start. Where the additional £3 billion or so will come from is anybody’s guess at the moment …

  2. [...] the wake of what it wouldn’t surprise me to find the mainstream media calling Memorandumgate, BBC London tonight finally noticed that Boris might not actually be in control of his brief, shall [...]

  3. BenSix says:

    Thank you for a very interesting comment, Evan.
    I may be unclear in my description of the memorandum. I don’t think that there is any ambiguity in the text itself, but the fact that it is subject to review could plausibly render it irrelevant.
    Boris was certainly perplexed as to the existence of it, however. The GLA statement referring to a “secret agreement existed between the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and the government” is proof enough of that.
    “Where the additional £3 billion or so will come from is anybody’s guess at the moment …”
    I could only speculate, but do feel – rather morbidly – that my lack of enthusiasm in 2005 has been somewhat vindicated.
    Respectfully,
    Ben

  4. BenSix says:

    The fact that it is subject “material change in the LDA’s role and responsibilities” is particularly concerning.
    Ben

  5. BenSix says:

    * “subject to ‘material change…”

    Yes, I’m a pedant.

  6. [...] just to reiterate what I think is as significant a story as the Olympic memorandum one which has been today’s main [...]

  7. [...] case that Boris ‘didn’t seem to have read‘ the memorandum, but that he vocally doubted that it even existed. And the memorandum wasn’t a detail, it was the focus of the interview [...]

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