Rory Stewart has announced that he is to run for Mayor of London.
The former Tory leadership candidate stood down from the party today and said he would not run in the next general election.
In a video posted on Twitter shortly after the announcement he said he plans to run against Sadiq Khan and the Tory candidate in the next mayoral election, scheduled for 7th May next year.
The way to fight back is through this great city
Recording on Millennium Bridge, he said:
“I’m standing in the middle of the greatest city on earth.
“I’ve got the wondrous St Paul’s Cathedral behind me in this slightly dodgy selfie.
“And it is a city not just with so much potential but, of course, a city that is now in real danger.
“Danger from Brexit, from technological change.
“But I think above all from what’s happened in British politics, to the kind of extremism that is taking over our country.
“This was the most moderate country on Earth.
“One of the most settled places on Earth.
“A place that treated people with civility and dignity and the reason that I’m going to be running in May to be the Mayor of London is that I believe the way to fight back is through this great city.”
Removal of the whip
His campaign has hit the ground running, with a letter announcing his mayoral decision to the London Evening Standard being covered on the newspaper’s front page.
The president of his local Conservative association said the PM’s removal of the whip may have played a role in the move.
Mr Stewart served as international development secretary until his resignation from Government in July.
He was among the rebels who voted to take control of the Commons timetable in order to pass legislation aimed at blocking a sudden exit from the EU.
The PM retaliated by ordering the controversial cull, which saw two former chancellors stripped of the Conservative whip.
A “loss to politics”
Amber Rudd, who also resigned from Mr Johnson’s Cabinet and the Tory party last month, said the departure of an “outstanding” MP and minister was a “loss to politics”.
“One of the strongest speakers in Parliament. Principled, patient, thoughtful. I feel certain he’ll be back,” she tweeted.
Mr Stewart wrote in his column in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald that he considered standing as an independent in Penrith before ruling it out.
“But it should be no secret that there are also local party members who would rather I did not run again.
“I don’t want to test loyalties, destroy old friendships or push any of these issues any further,” he said.