Now Rory Stewart says he WOULD serve under favourite Boris Johnson after previously calling himself the ‘anti-Boris’ contender – as Matt Hancock quits race
- The International development Secretary said he would be ‘honoured to serve’
- Yesterday he had threatening to set up a rebel Parliament against Mr Johnson
- Ruled out ministerial role in May, saying: ‘I could not serve with Boris Johnson’
Rory Stewart performed a screeching u-turn today, saying he would be prepared to serve Boris Johnson if he becomes Prime Minister hours after threatening to set up a rebel Parliament against him.
The International development Secretary, who previously described himself as the ‘anti-Boris’ choice in the race to replace Theresa May, said he would be ‘honoured to serve’ if asked.
He said he would be prepared to take a ministerial post if there was a No Deal Brexit ‘crisis’ – having yesterday launched a blistering on suggestions Mr Johnson might shut down Parliament to get the UK out of the EU by October.
His abrupt change of heart came as Matt Hancock pulled out of the leadership contest – amid squabbling over who should take on runaway favourite Mr Johnson.
The Health Secretary dramatically quit admitting the party was not going to elect him as leader – sparking speculation he could line up behind Jeremy Hunt or Sajid Javid.
Mr Stewart, who surprised Westminster by getting enough votes to get through to the second round of the Tory leadership ballot, told the BBC: ‘If we ended up in a crisis, and I fear no-deal Brexit would be a crisis, and if he were to wish me to come back, which I think is a little doubtful given the slight acrimony of the last few weeks, then, of course, I’d be honoured to serve.’
The International development Secretary has previously described himself as the ‘anti-Boris’ choice in the race to replace Theresa May
Mr Johnson won 114 votes yesterday, putting him miles ahead of all his rivals as he seeks to become Tory leader and prime minister
Mr Hancock bowed out this morning, saying: ‘I ran as the candidate of the future, but the party is understandably looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances we face right now.
Mr Johnson took a massive step towards Downing Street yesterday as he stormed home in the opening round of the Tory leadership battle.
The former foreign secretary topped the secret ballot with backing from 114 MPs – ahead of Jeremy Hunt in second with 43.
The higher-than-expected score for Mr Johnson – which drew gasps in the Committee Room 14 when it was announced – means he is almost guaranteed to make the final run-off among Tory members.
But the other hopefuls are still fighting over votes to sort out who should be Mr Johnson’s opponent in the run-off – and position themselves to get a big job in the next Cabinet.
Mr Stewart’s surprise willingness to serve today comes less than a month after he explicitly said he could not serve in a government led by Mr Johnson as he branded a No Deal Brexit ‘dishonest’.
The outsider, who yesterday won 19 votes, said in May: ‘I could not serve in a government whose policy was to push this country into a no-deal Brexit.
‘I could not serve with Boris Johnson.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced in a video today (pictured) that he was dropping out of the Tory leadership race
Bookmakers immediately slashed the odds on Mr Johnson being the next PM from 4/9 to 1/5 after today’s announcement read out by Cheryl Gillan
Just yesterday Mr Stewart said MPs would oppose Mr Johnson and ‘bring him down’ if he attempted to side-step attempts to block leaving without a deal.
Mr Stewart made the astonishing remarks to Sky News minutes after former foreign secretary romped away from the rest of the first in the first round of the ballot.
Mr Johnson has so far not ruled out proroguing Parliament – ending the current session – to prevent MPs from trying to block a No Deal Brexit or topple his government if elected Conservative leader.
After surprising Westminster and making it to the second round the International Development Secretary said: ‘That is an unconstitutional, improper, really disturbing suggestion – that you try to get something through by locking the doors of Parliament.
‘Answer us. I’ve been asking Boris for a week. Tell people because we want to know what kind of leader or prime minister you would want to be.
‘But he won’t be able to. I guarantee if he were to try, I, and every other MP will sit across the road in Methodist Central Hall and we will hold our own session of Parliament and we will bring him down.’