This might be the moment for Rory Stewart – the old Etonian of whom great things were predicted even before he became an MP

This might be the moment for Rory Stewart – the old Etonian of whom great things were predicted even before he became an MP

He’s become TMay’s main Brexit defender

Great things were predicted for Rory Stewart after his selection as CON candidate ahead of GE2010 for the safe seat of Penrith. He attracted an enormous amount of coverage and in December 2009 Ladbrokes made him the 12/1 fourth favourite to succeed Cameron as CON leader.

To get a sense of the atmosphere at the time this was from a glowing profile from Anna van Praagh in the Sunday Telegraph in 2009.

Britain doesn’t make men like Rory Stewart any more. The former diplomat has trekked 6,000 miles across Asia; at 28, wrote a best-selling book, The Places in Between, about the walk; was governor of a province in Iraq at 29; and last year, as well as becoming a Harvard professor, was hailed by Esquire magazine as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century. Brad Pitt has already bought the rights to his biopic. And he’s only 36…..

…. his impressive CV might strike fear into Cameron, whose own contains a comparatively drab seven years in the communications office at Carlton TV.“

Nearly a decade on Stewart’s yet to achieve the early promise partly because people who arrive in parliament with big reputations tend to struggle. It was a long time before Stewart become a minister and he’s not yet in the cabinet. Things, however, might be changing.

It has become very noticeable over the past few days as the government has tried to defend its Brexit position how often Rory Stewart is now the person chosen to put the government’s case.

At times he seems to be appearing everywhere and in his calm handling of tough questioning you can see why the Number 10 communications chief, Robin Gibb, selects him. Gibb is no stranger to the needs of politics on TV and was the BBC’s head at Westminster before taking up his job with Mrs May.

I’ve been impressed by the way Stewart’s handled a range of tough interviews and he’s managed to keep his cool and get over the central points. If Theresa May survives the next 4 months beyond the article 50 deadline you can see her making more changes in her team and Stewart would be well placed to get into the cabinet.

Everything in CON leadership betting depends on when there is a vacancy but if it is later rather than earlier the old Etonian Oxford graduate might just be a contender. His current odds of 100/1 are somewhat weaker than in 2009 but he could just be the person for the moment. I’ve had a tenner on.

Mike Smithson

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