Rory Stewart's Tory leadership launch torn apart by BBC reporter – 'You'll be swept aside'
After a showman’s performance when delivering his pitch to Tory members, the International Development Secretary was met with a brutal reminder of his outsider status by the BBC journalist. Mr Stewart was asked whether he recognised that once Boris Johnson launches his campaign on Wednesday, all of Mr Stewart’s words will be forgotten. Mr Watt said: “Rory Stewart, I’ve been to most of the Tory leadership launches and I think it’s fair to say that none of your rivals has put on a show quite like this.
“But isn’t the reality that when your fellow Etonian, you know his name, Boris Johnson – when Boris Johnson steps up and stands up tomorrow, all of this will be swept aside?”
The BBC reporter’s comment was met by the disagreement of the crowd, with cries of “nonsense” shouted by the outsider’s supporters.
Confident of the response received by Tory members so far, Mr Stewart said: “I believe in this country, I believe in the Conservative Party.
“I believe they are a deeply wise, generous, thoughtful group of people.
“I do not believe for a moment – and this isn’t just nonsense – every association that I go to up and down the country, when you explain that no deal is a recipe for delay, that no deal is a non-existent thing, it’s not a destination, it’s a failure to reach a destination, and when you ask them do you really feel that this is the person that you want engaging with the detail and the future of your health and education system?
“Is this the person that you want writing instructions to the nuclear submarines?
“Is this the man that you want embodying your nation on the world stage and guiding you through the most difficult choice that Britain has faced for 50 years?
“I trust the Conservative members to arrive at the correct answer.”
The Tory frontbencher took a swipe at the former Foreign Secretary at the beginning of his speech at the Underbelly Festival on London’s south bank by comparing his leadership rival to an “elephant in a circus tent”.
He said: “I’m going to speak today almost entirely about what I love about this country.
“Almost entirely about the ways in which this country can be so much better than it currently is.
“I’m going to start with that great prancing elephant in the room in this big circus tent.
“I’m speaking not about the leading leadership contender here.”
Boris Johnson is currently the frontrunner of the leadership contest among the ten candidates who have put themselves forward to replace Mrs May.