31 May 2019 | OPINION
Before the angry responses roll in saying that Rory Stewart for PM is the worst idea on this planet since Ed Miliband attempted to eat a bacon sandwich, please hear me out. Rory is a principled man who listens to all sides of the debate and is very rational in his decision-making: qualities we need in this now mad political world.
Rory has also categorically ruled out a second referendum. He said he would lock MPs down before a compromise was worked out and passed through the Commons. Rory wants to get Brexit done, and that’s why I trust him more than the other cabinet members, who aren’t ruling out a second referendum. Rory has also said he is open to include everyone in talks – including Nigel Farage, a big fan with the Brexit side of the Conservative party. He is the candidate to bring everyone together, something May failed to do, by trying to force through her poisonous Withdrawal Agreement over and over. For example, in a Young Conservatives Snapchat group I am involved in, another user (Alex) and I both regularly argue over most things. However, while talking about candidates today, both Alex and I united over Rory. Rory isn’t just the candidate to unite our broken party, he’s the candidate to unite our broken country.
Moving away from the B-word, Rory is serious about climate change. I don’t really understand the frustration of many Tories up in arms on Twitter about his policy of doubling the Foreign Aid budget to deal with climate change. This is possibly one of the most crucial policy points outside of Brexit facing us in the next 100 years. He has also pledged that the first policy of his administration would be to plant 120 million native trees in four months. He wants to buy land and build houses. He wants to make our society cleaner, fairer and more sustaining, and this is surely something that any reasonable person should applaud.
What sets Rory apart from the rest is his negotiation experience. Rory served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as his own website puts it: “Always simmering under the surface is the desire to talk about his experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“The thing I’ve learnt negotiating, whether with warring factions in Iraq or with mini-wars in Afghanistan,” he tells us, “is that you have to be nimble. This is not a game of red lines or rigidity, you’ve got to keep trying and be imaginative, and you have to reach out.” He says there are “similarities” with post-war Iraq and post-Brexit voting Britain. “The most fundamental similarity is that there is a completely surreal gap between the way that the Government talks about this and what is actually going on on the ground.” Rory understands what’s happening, as unlike other candidates he has instead been talking to potential financial backers and MPs; he has been out in London talking to people who both agree and disagree with him.
I could vouch for the fact that the 5 days Rory has been out talking to people about Brexit has taught him more than any of the other candidates have learnt over this leadership period. I know it seems strange as Rory does come across as a real Etonian, but he is the grassroots candidate, or at least more grassroots and connected to the voters than the top leadership dogs: the likes of Gove, Boris and Raab.
This also shows in the ConHome survey of 29th May, where he is 5th in the poll, only coming behind heavyweights Boris, Gove, Raab and the as-yet undeclared at the time of writing, Baker. So, before the responses roll in as to why Rory isn’t fit to be PM, maybe stop for a second and think. Because, in the end, we want a principled person who is willing to listen to all sides of the debate to work Brexit out, but is also serious about saving the environment and solving our housing crisis.