His dislike of No-deal Brexit makes him an attractive outsider for new Tory leader
The race to be the new leader of the Conservative Party and, for a temporary period at least, the Prime Minister is heating up. For those who don’t follow the Conservatives or are struggling to find a candidate who you can bring yourself to picture as Prime Minister, one who seems more closely connected to the average person is Rory Stewart. Not much closer, however. He is a former soldier and alumni of Oxford University, so a colourful past to say the least.
Stewart, who is the MP for Penrith and Borders and has been since 2010, is currently joint fifth favourite to become the new Conservative leader. He stands out for me, and he probably will be for many others when they look at the list of contenders. He is currently the secretary of state for the department of international development. He is also the newest member of the cabinet, replacing Penny Mordaunt when she departed for the Defence department.
Stewart has a strange, nerdy kind of personality. He has been on seemingly every news platform in the last few days, seemingly more so than some of his other hopefuls for number 10. The bizarre came in the form of him asking people on Twitter if they wanted to join him in Kew Gardens for a talk. Nothing was said about Stewart paying for the entry fees for any keen politico interested in a ‘chat’. It was a strange way of connecting with voters, but one which almost made a Conservative leader candidate look human; which is always important in the 21st century.
Kew Gardens conversationalist Stewart will likely pick up the votes from his party on his stance on no-deal Brexit. He is arguably the strongest anti no-deal Brexiteer running for the Conservative leadership. Stewart is determined to lead the UK out of the EU with some sort of deal, feeling that leaving with no deal will leave the country in trouble at some point in the future.
Whilst out and about on the streets taking questions from the public, armed with a smartphone and a selfie-stick, Stewart spoke of his desire to set up a sort of citizens assembly to get Brexit sorted out. He said he would have the Archbishop of Canterbury to oversee the events. It is unusual, yet this kind of creative flexibility would be a far reach from the dusty, stuttering negotiations carried out by Theresa May and her Cabinet.
Stewart is coming across as popular to the media because he has a certain level of charming nerdiness. His talk of hedgehogs in the house of commons and walking around London asking for people to talk to him makes Stewart sound like an odd but more relatable person than other candidates. Whether it is enough to persuade Conservative Party members that he is the right person for the party remains to be seen.
Rory Stewart is an outsider for the Conservative leadership now and it will probably remain this way. He would be a different kind of Conservative when compared to the previous two leaders, in that he has a far different and weirdly charming persona. Will we see him in number 10? Probably not. and even if he did get in, he’ll be under pressure almost instantly to call a general election to validate his position as PM. The people of the UK might, however, like the idea of a Tory who isn’t quite like the traditional Tory. After all its 2019, it might be time for the party to change its image.