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25 June, 2024
 
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British-Cypriot to challenge London mayor incumbent

Can Andreas Michli win? Londoners embrace new mayoral hopeful

Newsroom / CNA

Among the thirteen candidates for London Mayor at the local election of 2nd May features the name of British-Cypriot Andreas Michli.

The 39-year-old, a north London-born gym owner of Cypriot descent, with roots from the Cypriot village of Akaki, is one of the independent candidates aiming to beat the better known names, such as the incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan, supported by the Labour Party and the Conservatives’ Susan Hall.

And he thinks he is the man to upset the odds: “Most definitely I feel that out of all the candidates I represent London the most. The response I am getting is amazing. Everybody is so disaffected and upset with politicians in general and the two main party system… they want something new, there is an appetite for something different and now people more and more see me as this difference”, Michli told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) from his campaign tour bus, en route to one of the few corners of the British capital he has yet to visit in order to speak to the voters.

His pitch is clear: his decision to seek the mayorship though stemmed from a more complex situation. “It happened through a mixture of things,” he explained.

“I just don’t like the way our country and mainly our city of London is run. I went though a long battle against central government, local government, the Metropolitan Police, all through COVID-19. During the lockdowns the government ordered a lot of businesses to close and my business, my gym, fell within that. I decided not to close it, so I stood up against the government and eventually I was prosecuted by the local council, the Metropolitan Police. I fought them in court and I won. Then I went on to organise a lot of demonstrations in London against lockdowns and then I eventually made the decision to run for Mayor of London.”

His campaign motto is “Make London Strong” and, as he said, his main priority is to have better policing and specifically deal with knife crime. “I’m the only candidate that’s formed a plan to end knife crime in London. Most of the other candidates are just ignoring the issue completely,” he claimed.

His "Operation Brennan" includes forming a special police platoon to fight knife crime and referendums in each borough on police stop and search powers.

Michli also said that his programme gives special focus on improving public health, an issue close to his heart as a man of exercise and gym owner. “Health is a big part of my life. I want to take a more preventative approach,” he noted. Among other things he proposes subsidised gym memberships and nutrition plans for everyone by the Mayor’s office.

Lastly, he stressed his intention to abolish charges for London drivers, such as ULEZ and the congestion charge.

His programme also includes an updated housing strategy for London, with emphasis on high density residential development and aesthetics, as well as abolishing net zero targets, while creating more green spaces around London.

Although he feels his campaign has touched Londoners, he noted that one “hurdle” he has been facing is the “propaganda machine” of the big parties and his exclusion from mainstream British media.

Asked if he nurtured further political aspirations, Andreas Michli said: “I never really wanted to get into politics in the first place. I was just a regular, ordinary guy, you know, a family man, business man. The whole reason I got into this is because I believe we need less of the politicians in politics, we need ordinary people. I like to call it ‘the rise of the independents’. Whatever happens after this, I just hope other people do the same. Get independents running in politics.”

His wish also extends to UK Cypriots, especially the younger generations: “I definitely think this is going to be inspiring to the younger UK Cypriots, for sure, so they get involved in British politics.”

The independent candidate was named after his grandfather, Andreas Christofi Michli, who went to London from his little Cypriot village in the 1950s. He started working as a chef and eventually moved to Haringey, the heart of the UK Cypriot community, where for years he ran one of the most popular grocery stores with fresh produce from his island.

In closing, Andreas Michli the grandson sent a message through the CNA to the UK Cypriot voters in London: “My family has served the Cypriot community for generations. My pappou (grandfather) spent his whole life serving the community and this is something I truly feel I can do for London as a whole, and obviously the Cypriot community too.”

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Cyprus  |  UK

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