Rory Stewart quits Tory Party and announces he plans to stand as independent candidate for Mayor of London
Former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart has quit the Tory party and announced that he plans to stand as an independent candidate to be Mayor of London.
Mr Stewart said he had resigned from the Conservative Party and would be standing down at the next general election.
He went on to announce that he is going to stand as an independent candidate to be Mayor of London.
It’s been a great privilege to serve Penrith and The Border for the last ten years, so it is with sadness that I am announcing that I will be standing down at the next election, and that I have also resigned from the Conservative Party.
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) October 4, 2019
Writing on Twitter, Mr Stewart, who was among 21 rebels who had the whip removed by Boris Johnson when he defied him in the Commons by backing a move designed to block a no-deal Brexit. said: “It's been a great privilege to serve Penrith and The Border for the last ten years, so it is with sadness that I am announcing that I will be standing down at the next election, and that I have also resigned from the Conservative Party.”
Mr Stewart’s campaign began with a letter announcing his mayoral decision to the London Evening Standard covered on the newspaper's front page.
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Mr Stewart warned of the danger of Brexit to London and said he wanted to combat "extremism" in British politics as mayor.
He said: “I'm leaving that Gothic shouting chamber of Westminster, I'm getting away from a politics which makes me sometimes feel as though (US President Donald) Trump has never left London.”
The 2020 mayoral election will pit Mr Stewart against current mayor Sadiq Khan and Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey, who was backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his Tory conference speech on Wednesday.
In the wake of his resignation, the president of Mr Stewart’s local Conservative association said the PM's removal of the whip may have played a role.
Robert Craig said Mr Stewart would "possibly" not have made the decision if he still had the Tory whip, adding: “I suppose had that changed... it seems to have become clear that that wasn't going to change and he has other ambitions.”
Praising Mr Stewart as an “inspirational” MP, he said the 46-year-old was was moving on to a new venture, which he declined to reveal at this stage and criticised Mr Johnson for taking the party in an "extreme" direction.
What a loss to politics. An outstanding MP & Minister. One of the strongest speakers in Parliament. Principled, patient, thoughtful. I feel certain he’ll be back . https://t.co/GPC5mfclLD
— Amber Rudd MP (@AmberRuddHR) October 4, 2019
Since joining the Conservative Party in 2009, Mr Stewart’s roles have included Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State for International Development and Secretary of State for International Development.
He stood as a candidate in the Tory Party leadership contest but finished fifth.
The MPs colleagues lamented the loss of him from Westminster.
Former Cabinet colleague Amber Rudd tweeted: "What a loss to politics. An outstanding MP & Minister. One of the strongest speakers in Parliament. Principled, patient, thoughtful. I feel certain he'll be back."
Former Conservative MP Nick Boles, who resigned from the party earlier this year, tweeted: "Last rites are being read for moderate One Nation conservatism.
“@RoryStewartUK joins @RuthDavidsonMSP @SamGyimah @AmberRuddHR and many others. A sad day for British politics but a personal liberation for Rory who will go on to greater things, no doubt."
Sad to see my friend @RoryStewartUK is standing down at the next election. No place for moderates in the Tory party. The party will pay lip service to One Nation politics, but it’s soul has been captured by those who want to turn it into a nationalist party. There’s no way back. https://t.co/527KGI5kUs
— Sam Gyimah MP (@SamGyimah) October 4, 2019
Former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: “Very sorry to see. Our party should have room for talented, experienced and committed people from across the Conservative spectrum”, while Former Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron, the MP for neighbouring Westmorland and Lonsdale, tweeted: “This is a huge loss. Rory has been a strong voice for Cumbria and for decency, moderation and common sense.”
Sam Gyimah, who joined the Lib Dems after competing with Mr Stewart in the Conservative leadership contest, tweeted: "Sad to see my friend @RoryStewartUK is standing down at the next election. No place for moderates in the Tory party. The party will pay lip service to One Nation politics, but it's soul has been captured by those who want to turn it into a nationalist party. There's no way back."