Foreign Aid minister Roderick ‘Rory’ Stewart, darling of the Remainer wing of the Tory Party and many media commentators, has been knocked out of the race to succeed Theresa May as party leader and Prime Minister.
While Mr Stewart’s support among Tory MPs was always fairly limited — and support from ordinary members abysmal, according to polls — he received effusive praise from the media class, largely as a result of his Remainer credentials and pledge to prevent a clean, No Deal Brexit on October 31st.
The Eton graduate and former Labour member had said the only Brexit deal he would attempt to deliver would be the one laid out in Mrs May’s thrice-rejected withdrawal treaty with the bloc, and that he would not countenance a clean break if this could not be delivered.
During the leadership contest, he went so far as to threaten to convene his own illegal parliament and “bring down” Boris Johnson if he became Prime Minister and attempted to stop MPs from blocking No Deal by advising the Queen to exercise her constitutional right to prorogue (temporarily suspend) the parliamentary session and wait for the European Union (Withdrawal) Act of 2017 to take effect.
I am so moved & inspired by the support I have received over the last few weeks – it has given me a new faith in politics, a new belief in our country. I didn’t get enough MPs to believe today – but they will 🙂 I remain deeply committed to you and to this country. #RoryWalksOn
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) June 19, 2019
Meanwhile, leadership favourite Boris Johnson has strengthened his already commanding lead, with the backing of 143 MPs to 54 for Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, 51 for friend turned foe Michael Gove, and 38 for Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
It is unclear where the 27 Stewart voters will break, as while Hunt and Javid are both former Remain voters, former Vote Leave board member has reinvented himself as something of a “Remainer’s Brexiter” since he blew up Mr Johnson’s 2016 leadership bid by opting to run against him instead of backing him as they had previously planned.
Once MPs have whittled candidates down to a final two ordinary members should be allowed to pick a winner in a full party ballot, although there are suggestions that MPs may allow Johnson to be “coronated” like Mrs May was if other candidates’ bids appear untenable.
The handwringing of the Guardian reading classes at the exit of Rory Stewart from the leadership contest is something to behold. The fact is that I doubt whether a single one of them would have voted for him in an election.
— Iain Dale (@IainDale) June 19, 2019