Rory Stewart offered lifeline as Perthshire Tories ask him to be their MP
Stewart, one of 21 Tory MPs who were stripped of the party whip after voting for legislation to force a delay to Brexit, is being encouraged to consider standing in Perth and North Perthshire, the number one target seat for the Conservatives anywhere in the UK.
The Tories were defeated there in the last general election, when the SNP’s Pete Wishart won by just 21 votes. No Tory candidate has been selected there yet.
There has been speculation about a switch to Holyrood for the breakout star of the leadership campaign, with reports suggesting Stewart was contacted in the hours after Ruth Davidson’s resignation as Scottish party leader.
Responding to those reports, a senior party source in Perthshire said: “It makes much more sense for him to stand in Perth and North Perthshire, and fight to stay at Westminster, where he clearly still has ambitions. The local party would welcome him with open arms.”
The Penrith and the Borders MP spent part of his childhood in Crieff, where his mother still lives, and is an active local party member.
He is currently barred from standing for reselection as a candidate anywhere in the UK.
With Boris Johnson under pressure to heal the wounds within the Conservative party, all 21 ousted rebels have been sent letters setting out an appeals process. However, with a snap election possible as early as November, it isn’t clear if any appeal would be resolved in time.
Stewart has said he could run for re-election as an independent Conservative, but would have to rely on his local Tory party not running a candidate against him. A source close to the MP said he was committed to his seat in England.