It seems like half of Twitter has fallen in love with Rory Stewart and his whirlwind campaign to become prime minister. But recently, it’s not just centrist swing-voters who’ve been swept off their feet by the International Development Secretary. Certain figures on the pro-no deal side of the Brexit divide now seem to have fallen under Stewart’s spell and are issuing full-throated endorsements of him.
Nigel Farage invited Stewart onto his LBC show yesterday and hailed him for having ‘set alight’ the Tory leadership process, and praised his ‘terrific campaign’. In contrast the pro-Brexit frontrunner, Boris Johnson, has received the strongest criticism from Farage, who has described the blond Etonian as ‘untrustworthy’ for having voted for May’s deal on its third attempt, and of being ‘very confused’ about the single market during the 2016 referendum.
Farage isn’t the only member of the Brexit party milieu who’s rooting for Rory. Leave.EU communications director Andy Wigmore recently described him as ‘clearly intelligent’ and said he would ‘love to see him up against Boris Johnson in the final two’.
Isabel Oakeshott, who is a supporter of the Brexit party, is another of Stewart’s unlikely devotees, retweeting his #RoryWalks and today calling him ‘principled, funny, clever, different’. It’s quite an endorsement considering Stewart has pledged to set up a shadow parliament in Methodist Central Hall to stop a no-deal Brexit. Meanwhile, Oakeshott’s twitter feed is awash with unflattering anecdotes about Boris, despite his firm commitment to leave on 31st October – with or without a deal.
Mr S is sure that these unlikely confessions couldn’t possibly have anything to do with polling published last week by ComRes, which showed a landslide for the Brexit party if Rory Stewart led the Tories into a general election. The same polling showed that the Brexit party would be wiped out if Boris, who has pledged to ‘put Farage back in his box’, was prime minister.
No doubt Farage (who has long accused the Tories of putting party before country when it comes to Britain’s relationship with the EU) only has Brexit in mind when he lavishes praise on Stewart…