Rory Stewart has said he will be standing down at the next general election and has resigned from the Conservative Party.
The former Tory leadership candidate had expressed his concern over the direction the Tory party was heading recently.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, he said the centre had become “a lonely place” because most of the views are now the two extremes .
“I’m very very worried about polarisation, I’m worried that if we either go for a no-deal Brexit or we reverse the referendum and go for remain, we’re going to end up with 40 years of a country split right the way down the middle.”
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
Stewart was a candidate in the 2019 Conservative leadership election, going up against Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and others.
Adopting an unconventional campaigning style, he went on a series of filmed walkabouts (dubbed ‘RoryWalks’), which saw him take to the streets and talking to voters.
As The Guardian noted at the time:
“His campaign benefited at the start from low expectations, and for days leading up to the first vote his tally of supporters was in single figures.
“When he met the threshold he looked like the insurgent because so many had assumed he would be knocked out”.
Against expectations, he made it through the first two ballots, impressing at leadership debates.
Politician of the Year
Stewart campaigned on delivering a pragmatic Brexit, and was passionately opposed to a no-deal Brexit.
At the start of last month, alongside 20 other Conservative MPs, he lost his whip when he voted in favour of MPs taking control of the order paper.
Stewart was awarded Politician of the Year on the same night at the GQ Awards. Speaking at the event, he said:
“This is a very special evening in many ways because when I voted against the government this evening I heard that my whip has been removed and it’s likely that tomorrow there’s going to be a general election and I’m not going to be able to stand as a member of Parliament because Boris has decided he doesn’t want me in the party.
“So I’m very proud to take the award for Politician of the Year on the evening of which I cease to be a politician”.