Chris Wilkins in The Times: “Is Stewart the new ‘Heineken Tory’ to take on Johnson?”

Chris Wilkins, former No10 strategist, thinks that Rory Stewart’s undoubtable star quality can win the Conservatives the next election:

Strange things can happen in Tory leadership contests. [...] the strangest thing in this campaign so far is that no one is taking Rory Stewart’s candidacy particularly seriously. Yet the man most famous for his walking has been making all the running.

Anyone who witnessed his campaign launch this week cannot fail to have been impressed. Indeed, over the past couple of weeks his slightly anarchic style and compulsive truth telling has been a jolt of energy in an otherwise mundane contest.

And it is paying off, with a YouGov poll at the weekend showing him to be the highest rated candidate for prime minister among all voters, once awareness is taken into account.

It also shows that he is the top choice for younger voters all the way up to the age of 45 — the critical constituency that abandoned the Conservatives at the last general election.

There is clearly something about a politician who goes out of their way to reach beyond their base that the wider voting public seems to like. The Tory leadership rules, restricted as they are to MPs and the membership in the country, do not encourage such an approach. But ultimately the next leader must be able to broaden the party’s appeal and build a broad voting coalition if the Conservatives are to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of No 10.

Read the article here.

Rory Stewart