Boris Johnson humiliated after Theresa May blocks water cannon licence

The home secretary has delivered a humiliating blow to London mayor Boris Johnson, after refusing to licence three water cannon he bought to be used in the UK.

Johnson purchased three of the second hand weapons last year, costing £218,000, despite receiving no indication that they would ever be approved by Theresa May.

Today the home secretary made it clear they will now not be approved, amid continued concerns about their safety record.

According to the Evening Standard, May will now not issue a licence  "this side of the election". A government source told the paper the home secretary was "determined not be pushed into a decision when she remained unconvinced about the equipment’s suitability for Britain".

Use of the weapons was rejected by all parties on the London Assembly last year, following evidence that the weapons bought by Johnson had been responsible for the deaths and serious injuries of protesters in Germany. Even one of Johnson's closest aides told that the mayor would "live to regret" purchasing the weapons.

The London mayor has been a strong supporter of the use of water cannon. When he first announced that he had purchased the weapons last year, he made a pledge on LBC radio that he would stand as a test dummy before they were used on the public. No such test has yet been timetabled.

Asked last year about the home secretary's continued refusal to approve a licence, Johnson told the London Assembly it was "highly unlikely" it would not be approved.

The mayor's opponents today urged him to get rid of the weapons altogether.

"The home secretary’s refusal to approve water cannon for use on London’s streets should be a clear signal to Boris Johnson that he is the only one who thinks this ill-judged proposal is a good idea," Labour assembly member Joanne McCartney said today.

“I am delighted that the home secretary has seen sense and will not be approving water cannon," Green assembly member Jenny Jones added.

"The mayor’s decision to buy these weapons in advance of the home secretary’s approval was rash and arrogant, and a waste of public money. I’m pleased the home secretary was able to see what the mayor could not. Water cannon is an indiscriminate military weapon that has no place on our streets.”

The mayor's office today insisted he remains committed to the weapons.

"Independent polling shows that the majority of Londoners support the police having water cannon at their disposal for use in exceptional circumstances," a spokesperson for the mayor's office of policing and crime said.

"The Mayor has made his position clear and awaits the Home Secretary’s licensing decision."