Boris Johnson has given his backing to the campaign to get a directly elected Mayor for Cardiff.

The Mayor of London said Mayor in Cardiff would “give the opportunity for the city to have someone who can campaign the whole time for the interests of the people who live here”.

“Whether it’s infrastructure, lower taxes, better healthcare, whatever it happens to be, you’ve got somebody who can stand up for everybody in the community,” he added.

Drawing on his own experiences in London, and the benefits that could be seen in Cardiff, the Conservative MP said: “I really think it [having a directly elected Mayor] has worked in London. It’s enabled us to campaign very, very hard for infrastructure projects that we otherwise might not have succeeded in getting. And if you look at the London economy, it’s the most successful urban economy in Europe. I really think you need a Mayor – somebody to represent┬áthe interests of the whole community, to stand up for the poorest and neediest, as well as businesses. I think its high-time Cardiff had one.”

Boris said the formula that has worked so well in London should be replicated in Cardiff: “I think the crucial thing is to remember the connection between great public services and a dynamic economy. What we’ve got in London is a mixture. We’ve got more people working in the private sector that in any other part of the UK economy, but that revenue enables us to invest in fantastic mass transit systems, in public transport. That, in turn, is the platform for economic growth and dynamism. I think that’s the formula you want in Cardiff and around the whole country.”

The campaign

The Mayor 4 Cardiff campaign is in the middle of a six month petitioning period, where it needs nearly 25,000 signatures from the Cardiff electorate to trigger a referendum.

It wants a directly elected Mayor to replace the role of leader of the council, which is chosen by the council itself, not the people of Cardiff.

Mayor 4 Cardiff wants a role that is “more accountable, more focused and more committed”, allowing Cardiff to be “stronger and more competitive on a global scale”.

If the petition is successful, campaign leader Daran Hill, who led the Welsh devolution referendum campaigns in 1997 and 2011, hopes to hold a referendum in the autumn, with the election for a Mayor taking place alongside the 2017 local council elections.