Chancellor George Osborne has told West Midlands council leaders to crack on with the creation of a combined authority and strongly urged them to support an elected mayor for the region.
The Tory was in Birmingham and the Midlands to announce further devolution for the region including the expansion of a job-creating Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone to cover the Curzon Street area around the new High Speed rail station.
But during a private meeting with council leaders, he said if the West Midlands wanted the full devolution package - including transport, skills and economic growth and health and social care funding - then it needed to embrace the idea of a Boris Johnson-style metro mayor.
Speaking after the meeting, he stressed he would not impose the mayoral model and it was up to the political, business and community leaders in the region to come forward with their own proposals for both the combined authority and mayor - including what districts would be covered.
Mr Osborne said: "Obviously, and this is a point I made to the council leaders today, if you go to the full model of total control over transport, then there's got to be some accountability.
"Local people who pay their taxes need to make sure they can hold power to account and they know who carries the can if things go wrong.
"And in every other major western country, the best model for doing that has been to have an elected mayor.
"London has had one for 20 years and now Greater Manchester is choosing to have one so if you want to go for the full model, with all or many of the local decisions taken here, then you have got to have some accountably and some democracy.
"The mayor model works best but if local people don't want to go there they don't have to."
He rejected the suggestion local voters in Coventry, Solihull, Birmingham and the Black Country should have a say in a combined authority, perhaps through a referendum, saying it was part of the manifesto on which the Government was elected.
He said he was keen to move on with the devolution agenda so the West Midlands could become an "engine for growth" in the future.
Already, Birmingham and the four Black Country authorities have taken steps towards joint working while Solihull and Coventry have expressed interest in joining. Surrounding districts are also looking at the proposal.
But so far there is little support for a directly elected mayor to operate at a region wide level - with only Birmingham council leader Sir Albert Bore and West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson openly in favour.
The Chancellor was visiting the construction site of the new £8 million iCentrum office block - part of Innovation Birmingham Campus next to Aston University where up to 400 skilled technology jobs are set to be created.
Speaking about the HS2 development and new enterprise zone, he added: "It is a great engineering project of our age and it will transform the economic geography of our country.
"And today we're committing to maximize the value of the investment for Birmingham, by extending the current enterprise zone in the centre of the city so it covers the whole of the regeneration area around the new Curzon Street station.
"We're also going to extend how long that runs so the local enterprise partnership can invest more in infrastructure to maximize the benefits of HS2."