Is Rory Stewart 2019’s answer to Nick Clegg? Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson thinks so. Like Nick Clegg, she said of the unlikely star of the early phases of the Tory leadership contest, he is ‘changing political communication’. But, she added, ‘like Nick, I fear the electorate will appreciate him yet vote for someone else.’
Whether or not you think this week’s guest is the best candidate to be the next Conservative leader, Rory Stewart has been a breath of fresh air in the last week or so, escaping Westminster to tour the country and talk politics with whoever will listen. With his social media videos he has cut out the middle man and inserted himself into the conversation about the future of his party and the country.
Now most of his colleagues expect these walking tours to be an entertaining distraction before they settle down to the serious task of selecting Britain’s next Prime Minister. But Stewart isn’t running to be a inoffensive amuse bouche. He means business.
For this week’s episode of Free Exchange, I met up with him in St James’s Park to talk about everything from the social care and Brexit to opium pipes and why he is the ‘Trumpian anti-Trump’.
You can listen to the full episode here, or subscribe via iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.