With Franois Hollande set to raise taxes, says Joy Lo Dico in The Independent, London estate agents are braced for a flood of enquiries "from our well-heeled Gallic neighbours looking for a way out".
The capital already has an estimated 300,000 French residents, and 100,000 Russians, many of them rich professionals. "The pinnacle of the growth is Knightsbridge, a Russian hotspot, while South Kensington, with its abundance of French delicatessens and cafes, is sometimes referred to as the 21st arrondissement."
The figures are startling: 85%of London houses and flats worth more than £10m are now owned by foreign buyers, and the demand for properties that cost more than £2m has spread from the centre out to middle-class heartlands like Battersea and Queen's Park. These places are pleasant but unremarkable, as Lo Dico says, yet even they are now beyond the means of many people earning decent incomes, such as civil servants and academics.
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
One effect of this has been on schools, especially private schools, where the proportion of foreign pupils is growing steadily. One (English) mother told Lo Dico that outside a top west London girls' school she passed daily there was a line of chauffeur-driven cars waiting to pick up "the little princesses".
All that money flowing in means plenty of demand for smart restaurants, interior designers and the like, as well as for financial and legal services. But British professionals, says Lo Dico, are "finding their aspirations capped by their foreign peers". They are resentful, too, about how little tax many rich property-owning foreigners in London seem to pay. I know how they feel. In less than a generation, middle-class Britons have been all but excluded from buying anywhere nice in central London.
The selling off of Britain goes way beyond houses, of course. Three weeks ago I wrote about the foolishness of letting our energy firms fall into foreign hands. The same applies, as Janice Turner points out in The Times, to water companies. The sale of Thames Water to the German company RWE proves why other nations do not flog "their life-giving supply into foreign hands".
In 2006, London faced drought restrictions despite the fact that unmaintained pipes in the capital were wasting enough water every day to supply almost three million homes. Yet, says Turner, "that did not stop RWE from paying £1bn to its mostly German shareholders over its five years of ownership".
Even now, when Thames Water is owned by the Australian company Kemble Water which claims to invest heavily in infrastructure "just two dry winters have left us in crisis while Kemble paid dividends of £179.5m. But why feel any shame for fleecing a country where you don't even vote, let alone pay water bills, and where the government regulator Ofwat, for its first 14 years of existence, didn't fine a single supplier for leaks?"
Tabloid money... Heathrow cannot work without a bit of light racism
Boris Johnson wonders why so many foreigners find work in London while so many British teenagers seem unable to, says Tom Newton Dunn in The Sun. He doesn't have an answer. But one of his first acts after re-election was to announce an inquiry into the problem. "That's what you get with Boris." He's not scared of focus groups, advisors, "control freak mandarins", the right, or Nick Clegg. "He just gets on with being Boris."
"Last week, I said that immigration officials at Heathrow should use a bit of light racism when deciding [who] to target for more thorough checks," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. "Now comes news that Customs have been deliberately searching white passengers they know are carrying nothing illegal just so race quotas' can be met. The problem here is simple. You can be a mugger, burglar, peeping Tom or a banker. You cannot be a racist. But I say again, while racism has no place in modern society, Heathrow Airport will not, and does not, work without it."
"It is great to see that the government filled the Queen's Speech with what truly matters such as paternity leave for new fathers," says Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror. "Forget about the million youngsters on the dole What matters is the touchy-feely fantasy that new dads can take six months of paid leave. But you can't take paternity leave if you don't have a job."
Readers have been telling me tales of unexpected kindness and honesty, says Kelvin MacKenzie in the Daily Mail. "The Robertson family arrived at Luton airport from Spain at 10pm just before Easter. At the car hire desk they were asked for a £250 deposit but their Spanish credit card was refused. A man offered his card, saying: I've been in a similar situation.' They exchanged addresses. The car was duly returned, and the deposit refunded."
MBNA unveils first ever savings product offering 5% return on cash - is it any good?
Credit card provider MBNA has entered the savings market with a one-year fixed account. How does the rate compare to other deals on the market?
By Vaishali Varu Published
NatWest brings back £200 bank switching deal - is it the best on the market?
NatWest has returned with a £200 bank switching offer. How do you get it and should you switch your current account to NatWest?
By Vaishali Varu Published