A former Tory Cabinet minister has admitted that he acted “creepily” in the pursuit of a promotion and said he “ended up despising” himself when in Parliament.
Rory Stewart, who served as international development secretary, said he had praised policies “that I didn’t really believe in” to try and get a seat at the top table.
In an interview with GB News he said that becoming an MP means “nobody takes you seriously” and that Westminster had turned him “into some kind of child”.
He added that Parliament was dominated by “a group of people who are very, very bitter” and who “feel that their basic mission in life is to try to humiliate others”.
Mr Stewart, who was elected in 2010, has told how he had an offer of promotion to become a minister withdrawn after he rebelled against the Government in one vote.
Early on in his Commons career he voted against David Cameron’s plans to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected second chamber.
He said that George Osborne, the then chancellor, had told him beforehand that if he did so he would remain a backbencher for at least the next five years.
Mr Stewart said that he responded by trying to ingratiate himself with the former prime minister and that “this is why I ended up despising myself”.
“If you’ve come into Parliament to try to do things and make a difference, and to spend five years stuck on the back benches watching Liz Truss, who joined at the same time as you, becoming a Cabinet minister, because you’ve rebelled once,” he said.
“I would find myself sort of creepily trying to sit next to David Cameron at lunch, and I’d send these texts saying ‘congratulations on your latest policy’ that I didn’t really believe in.
“And so, I began to feel that I was being made, in my early 40s, into some kind of child.”
Mr Stewart eventually rose to international development secretary under Theresa May, though he only served three months in the post before she resigned.
He said that despite being “quite critical of colleagues” he now looked back on his time in Parliament and realised “I was as bad, if not worse, than all of them”.
‘Treated like school children by the whips’
Speaking about his experience of being an MP, he added: “We were all being treated like school children by the whips.
“It’s a very, very odd system. Nothing is what it seems. It’s like Alice in Wonderland. And you realise that the whole thing is basically about creeping up to your bosses.
“And I felt, when I was eventually sitting around the Cabinet table, that the 10 years of sort of schoolyard hazing doesn’t produce proud, independent, confident decision makers.
“Even when they’re at the Cabinet table, they’re still sending creepy texts to the prime minister hoping that they can get a slightly more senior job at the Cabinet table.”
He stood for the Tory leadership in 2019 on a platform of opposing a no deal Brexit, and said he would refuse to serve under Boris Johnson.
When the former prime minister won he resigned from the Cabinet and then stood down altogether as an MP at the December election.
Mr Stewart, who said he left the Tories because he stands for a “centrist, more traditional conservatism”, said he does not know who he will vote for next year.
He said: “I don’t feel comfortable in the direction the party’s going at the moment, but at the same time I’m not a Labour supporter because I have very traditional views about the world.
“Usually when I get really stuck, I’m afraid I give up and vote for the Lib Dems.”