Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart says he could not serve under Boris Johnson

Posted On: 
25th May 2019

Rory Stewart has said he could not serve in a government led by Boris Johnson - and suggested the former Foreign Secretary misled him about pursuing a no-deal Brexit.

Rory Stewart joined the Canninet earlier this month
Credit: 
PA Images

The International Development Secretary admitted he "may well just have done myself out of a job" given Mr Johnson is the clear favourite to succeed Theresa May.

Leave supporter Mr Johnson declared on Friday that the UK "will leave the EU on 31 October, deal or no deal" - just hours after Mrs May had announced that she will stand down as Tory leader on 7 June after failing to get MPs to support her Brexit policy.

Boris Johnson says Brexit will happen on 31 October 'deal or no deal' if he becomes PM

Rory Stewart warns Tories would lose millions of Remain voters by trying to ‘out-do' Nigel Farage

Rory Stewart no longer "fantasises" about being PM – but don't rule him out

But Mr Stewart - who has already thrown his hat into the ring to succeed the outgoing Prime Minister - said that was at odds with private remarks Mr Johnson had made to him recently.

Speaking on Radio Four's Today programme, he said it was important that the next PM should be "truthful" about the challenges the country faces.

He said during the leadership content, "will be encouraged to promise things they can't deliver", such as a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Stewart said: "I could not serve in a government whose policy was to push this country into a no-deal Brexit. I think it would be a huge mistake. Damaging, unnecessary and I think also dishonest."

Asked if that meant he could not serve under Mr Johnson, he said: "Yes, I could not serve with Boris Johnson and the reason for that is I spoke to Boris two weeks ago about this and I thought at the time he had assured me he wouldn't push for a no-deal Brexit.

"We had a conversation for about 20/25 minutes and I left the room reassured by him that he wouldn't do this, but it now seems that he's coming out for a no-deal Brexit, and for all the reasons I explained to him at the time, I'm afraid that is something that is misleading to people."

The Penrith and The Border MP added: "I would not serve in the Cabinet of somebody who is explicitly pushing for a no-deal Brexit. I couldn't support that policy. 

"I couldn't serve as Foreign Secretary or International Development Secretary arguing for a policy I didn't believe in. Given that Boris is the frontrunner, it may well be true that I've just done myself out of a job."