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'Proud Londoner' Damian Lewis slams Boris Johnson over 'Dubai on Thames' promise

Published 05/05/2016

Damian Lewis will walk the red carpet at the UK gala premiere of Our Kind Of Traitor
Damian Lewis will walk the red carpet at the UK gala premiere of Our Kind Of Traitor

Damian Lewis has condemned outgoing mayor Boris Johnson for reneging on his promise not to turn London into "Dubai on Thames".

The Eton-educated actor, who called himself a "proud Londoner", singled out unoccupied second homes owned by rich foreign investors that have left parts of London empty as part of the reason the character of the city had "changed".

Speaking at the UK gala screening of new film Our Kind Of Traitor, he said: "I do think it's interesting that the mayor said when he came into power that he wouldn't turn us into 'Dubai on Thames' and full of enormous, thrusting symbols of capitalism and wealth."

Mr Johnson reportedly made the claim as part of his election promises when he came into office in 2008.

Lewis continued: "I think London has changed and the heart of London is now inhabited by people with second, third, fourth homes, these super-rich, that class of people most of us don't know or come across."

He said he took issue with "the ultra-rich, the way they've taken up residency in London, the way that's been facilitated by our leaders and our politicians".

He said: "I'm a proud Londoner and it would be a shame if the centre of London became given over entirely to people's third homes, so hopefully it won't."

Lewis, 45, stars as an MI6 agent in the new adaptation of John le Carre's espionage thriller, which explores the murky world of money laundering and corruption in the British government.

Like The Night Manager's Tom Hiddleston, the role has seen his name thrown into the hat for James Bond, rumours of which he is "enjoying immensely".

But he admitted he had not yet received a call from Bond boss Barbara Broccoli.

"No one has called me, at the moment it's just internet chat," he said.

The screening was also attended by Naomie Harris, who stars as Gail, one half of a couple who find themselves caught up in a Secret Service operation when they unwittingly befriend a kingpin in the Russian mafia (played by Stellan Skarsgard) while on holiday in Marrakech.

Harris, who is best known for playing Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall and Spectre, hinted that fans should not rule out a return for Daniel Craig as 007.

She said: "No one knows what's happening yet with Daniel and I hope he comes back, he's phenomenal as Bond."

Talking about her role, she said: "I love the Bond family ... so I'll always come back if they ask me."

Director Susanna White, the woman behind Parade's End and Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang, was also in attendance and said she was backing Lewis as the first "ginger Bond".

Our Kind Of Traitor will be released in cinemas on May 13.

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