PinkNews.co.uk exclusive

Andrew Boff, a candidate for the Conservative candidate Mayor of London, has welcomed MP Boris Johnson to the contest.

Nominations closed at noon today.

Mr Boff, who is gay, was one of the first Tories to put himself forward for the job of taking on Ken Livingstone.

The 49-year-old is a former leader of Hillingdon council. He failed to be elected Mayor of Hackney last year.

He is up against a range of candidates.

Today Boris Johnson, MP for Henley, journalist, TV personality and close friend of party leader David Cameron said he would put his name forward.

He resigned as a shadow minister.

Mr Johnson is best known for his appearances on TV panel show Have I Got News For You and for his knack of insulting the populations of regional English cities.

Mr Boff told PinkNews.co.uk that fame is not required to take on Ken and win:

“Whoever becomes the Tory candidate for mayor will have a high profile – you don’t need to acquire it prior to the selection. I welcome Boris to the race.

“This process is all about democracy – they don’t have that nowadays in the Labour party.”

Nearly 50 people are thought to have put themselves forward for the Tory nomination, among them Richard Barnes, another gay Tory former leader of Hillingdon who is currently London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon.

Earlier this month Nick Boles, an openly gay man who was easily the most prominent prospective candidate, withdrew from the race to undergo treatment for cancer.

The party will now create a shortlist and candidates will attend a selection meeting this weekend.

A list of between two and five final candidates will be put forward in a ‘primary,’ a vote that all Londoners on the electoral register can take part in.

This selection process will continue until 26th September, when the most popular candidate will become the Tory choice to take on Ken Livingstone in May 2008.

Mr Boff said:

“This is a time for everyone to share their ideas for London.

“I want to bring into operation a system where Londoners can propose items of action to be voted on by their fellow Londoners and binding on the mayor.”

The system would be similar to the propositions that American citizens in states like California can put directly to voters.

Despite the entry of one of the big beasts of the Tory party into this local race, Mr Boff remains positive he can take on Boris and Ken and win.

“Mayor Livingstone is neither unassailable or unbeatable and if I am elected it would not be a ‘coronation’ for him – he has let down Londoners.

“He substitutes entertainment with progress – every time he is having a problem he puts on a concert … the Romans used to do the same thing.”

It now falls to Mr Johnson to show there is more to him than a showman.