Published: Tue, June 18, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Support grows for Rory Stewart ahead of Boris Johnson showdown

Support grows for Rory Stewart ahead of Boris Johnson showdown

Candidates seeking to beat Boris Johnson and become Britain's next prime minister accused the Brexit-backing front-runner of trying to avoid scrutiny after he refused to take part in a televised debate alongside his five rivals Sunday.

He was taunted about his absence by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who said it raised questions about his ability to do the job of prime minister.

The ex-Tory leader was reportedly spotted chatting to old school pal Boris at an exclusive London club last week.

"I believe that if we are going to leave without a deal you need to persuade Parliament that is the right course of action".

Mr Stewart needs at least 33 MPs to support him in the second round of voting to progress, but only won the support of 19 (including himself) in the first.

All candidates, except the Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart, would be prepared to leave without a deal.

"Who is going to be nimble enough, who has the style, who has the approach, who has the way of dealing with the public - I don't think the answer is going to be pre-scripted answers", he said.

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"There is a yearning in this country for political leaders who tell it straight, who are honest about the political challenges that lie ahead... that is why I am backing Rory Stewart", he told the crowd on London's South Bank.

He confirmed his support on Tuesday morning, after Matt Hancock, the candidate he originally backed, withdrew from the race.

Boris Johnson leaving his home on the day of the Westminster leadership hustings he didn't show up at.

And how will the next leader deal with an issue that has divided the Conservative Party and the UK?

The 313 Tory lawmakers in the House of Commons are set to narrow the field of candidates in a series of votes this week, with the final two names put to a postal vote of about 160,000 Conservative members nationwide.

Mr Johnson gained the support of former leadership contender Andrea Leadsom on Tuesday morning, who said he was the "best placed to get us out of the European Union at the end of October" and an "election winner". "If we don't get change, people will vote for change in the form of Jeremy Corbyn".

Mr Johnson gained 114 votes in the first ballot - more than double his nearest rival, Mr Hunt. At the hustings, Mr Raab hit back at criticism over his refusal to rule out proroguing Parliament to deliver a no-deal Brexit, arguing that suspending the Commons was a "central plank" of Mr Stewart's plan for another vote on the existing deal with the European Union because of a ruling from Commons Speaker John Bercow.

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