Boris V Obama

The recent Obama visit was a great success, but the Anyvan courier services team were amused to see that London Mayor Boris Johnson, never one to keep his opinions to himself, tackled the most powerful man in the world as to why US embassy staff don’t pay the Congestion Charge.

The media reported that the Mayor was quite eager to get the President’s opinion as to why US diplomats felt they didn’t need to pay the charges. And the courier services team would certainly liked to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.

“Hello, I’m the Mayor of London and you, Mr President, owe me millions of pounds.” He might have said – we can only guess!

How that might have gone down with the leader of world’s biggest democracy will remain a secret, but if most of us couldn’t help but  cringe at the slightly inopportune timing, we have to remember the US staff apparently owe over £5m in congestion charges.

The US staff have long maintained that since the Congestion Charge is a tax, any foreign diplomats are exempt from paying because of the 1960 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations. This protocol says that diplomatic missions do not have to pay this kind of tax within the country they are based.

So, any man and van operator, might be tempted to lodge themselves as a diplomatic mission in order to save on the congestion charge; if only it were that easy of course!

But when people read, especially those working for delivery companies, that the US embassy staff have ignored 45,000 congestion charge notices since it was introduced in 2003, it might cause a few raised eyebrows.

The courier services team wouldn’t like to owe the Mayor money, but just how Obama will cope with the Johnson approach, and who will eventually win, remains to be seen.

Ben Goor
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