Friday 4 October 2019 11:08 am

Rory Stewart quits 'gothic shouting chamber' of Westminster to enter race to become mayor of London

Rory Stewart is to stand as an independent candidate to become the next mayor of London, he said today.

Stewart earlier announced he is quitting the Conservative party and will not stand at the next general election.

Read more: Rory Stewart quits Tory party and will step down at next election

The former Tory MP said the capital “is the most extraordinary city on Earth – but London is also facing one of the most challenging times in its history”.

“It is a city not just with so much potential but, of course, a city that is now in real danger,” he said in a “slightly dodgy selfie” video announcing his intention to run.

“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.”

Stewart said he has grown tired of Westminster’s “gothic shouting chamber” and said UK politics “makes me sometimes feel like Trump has never left London”.

As an independent candidate, Stewart will take on Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey and Labour’s sitting London mayor Sadiq Khan when the campaign gets underway in 2020.

Speaking in front of St Paul’s, Stewart said: “The reason that I’m going to be running in May to be Mayor of London is that I believe that the way to fight back is through this great city, through the traditions of compromise, the energy and diversity of this city and to make it a better place.

Rory Stewart in front of St Paul's (Getty)
Rory Stewart announces his candidacy as London mayor in front of St Paul’s

“To make sure that the very air we breathe is clean, that we feel safe in our houses, that we have the right kind of houses, that we challenge division.

“I’m leaving that gothic shouting chamber of Westminster, I’m getting away from a politics which makes me sometimes feel like Trump has never left London. I want to walk through every borough of this great city to get back to us on the ground, making change local and showing that the way we do it is not through division but through love.

“Love not as a lazy compromise but as something painful, something difficult, something risky about changing the world together.”

Stewart earlier announced he will quit his Cumbrian seat as an MP at the next general election.

The former international development secretary was one of 21 Tory rebels that Prime Minister Boris Johnson sacked last month after they voted against the government to try and block a no-deal Brexit.

Stewart called Johnson’s decision to remove the whip “not a Conservative way of behaving”.

More to follow.