Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 13:32 UK

Mayor to retain newspaper column

Interview with London mayor Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has pledged to continue writing for the Daily Telegraph, even though he conceded being mayor of London was already "a full-time job".

He said he did not believe Londoners would mind if he spent his Sunday evenings "churning out a column".

"I think it essential that I shall be able to convey to a wide audience my views about a wide range of subjects," he told BBC Two's The Daily Politics.

He was elected on 1 May, ending Ken Livingstone's eight years as mayor.

"I remind [Londoners] that their previous mayor wrote for the Morning Star; indeed I think he wrote for the Independent," Mr Johnson said.

"I think there's no particular reason not to treat journalism as another way to express your point of view."

Transport upgrades

Meanwhile he said he had a "pretty cordial, relaxed, perhaps guarded conversation" with Chancellor Alistair Darling when they met on Thursday morning.

"I was very glad he confirmed his 100% commitment to Crossrail, which will go ahead," Mr Johnson said, referring to the much-delayed 16 billion train service which will run through central London and out to counties including Essex and Berkshire.

In my view it should be the power of the democratically-elected mayoralty to hire and fire the person responsible for domestic policing in London
Boris Johnson

The chancellor was also fully behind "the upgrading of the tube, which every Londoner wants", the mayor said.

"I made this point very powerfully and I'm delighted to say that he totally agrees that if we're going to maintain London's lead as the world's leading financial centre, we've got to have the infrastructure to keep people coming back."

Mr Johnson said he thought he should have the final say on the person appointed as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the bigger of London's two forces. The role is currently held by Sir Ian Blair.

"In my view it should be the power of the democratically-elected mayoralty to hire and fire the person responsible for domestic policing in London."

The mayor contributed about 800 million to the Metropolitan Police budget, he added, and so "to that extent, if you pay the piper, you call the tune".

Journeys 'too scary'

However, he acknowledged there was "an issue" in the way of making this happen.

"There's a difficult constitutional problem because he has a national dimension and he is responsible for counter-terrorism across Britain, the protection of the Royal family and all the rest of it," Mr Johnson said.

"There is a willowing-out job to be done, in my view."

Mr Johnson also renewed his pledge to "stop the culture of 100% tolerance of minor crime and disorder" around London.

He said he was planning an announcement on Friday about increasing the number of uniformed police officers at transport hubs, because "thousands of people feel aggrieved that their bus journeys are too scary".

His measures would "make a difference to the general climate on the buses", he added.


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