Rory Stewart says the centre is a “pretty lonely place to be” as views get polarised to two extremes.
The former leadership contender made his first major public appearance since resigning from the Cabinet on Boris Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister.
Speaking at Edinburgh International Book Festival he said his intention to vote against a no-deal Brexit will mark him as a “traitor” in the eyes of some members.
Soft, pragmatic, moderate Brexit
He added that a “soft, pragmatic, moderate” Brexit is necessary to avoid splitting the country, saying:
“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.
“My instinct is to go back to Parliament next week and say we must find a compromise, we must go for a soft Brexit, we must re-energise the Withdrawal Agreement, but I’m now speaking to who – 10 people, 15 people – because Parliament is now divided between a Conservative Party which is lining up behind Boris for a no-deal Brexit, and Labour and the Lib Dems who are increasingly pushing for a second referendum and remain.
“For somebody like me who’s in the centre, it’s a pretty lonely place to be, because most of the views are now the two extremes.”
Leadership has become about fairy tales
Asked if he would consider running in any future Tory leadership race, he said: “I’m definitely thinking about it. It’s a very, very difficult question.”
The MP said the idea of leadership had become about “fairy tales” and the leader “the person that can produce the most absurd and extravagant fairy tale”.
He said: “I think in a way they are playing into a nostalgia and desire for heroism and grandeur.
“Nobody really wants to have a conversation with me about how the fourth time round at an addiction treatment programme for heroin in Glasgow works, what we want to hear is, ‘Britain is great, it’s all going to be different, we’re going to rip it up, we’re going to have a no-deal Brexit and launch into the new world’, because there’s still this sort of craving for heroic vision, which has so little to do with the business of government.”