Rory Stewart vows to resign as London mayor if he fails to cut knife crime
Rory Stewart today vowed to allow Londoners to “boot me out” if he failed to cut knife crime as mayor.
The former Tory leadership contender turned mayoral candidate said he would set a “fair target” to be achieved one or two years after taking office and would resign if he failed to hit it.
Mr Stewart, right, who is running as an independent after quitting the Tory Party, told the London Conference yesterday: “I will reduce violence in this city. If I don’t, I will resign.”
Afterwards he told the Evening Standard that tackling knife crime would be at the “heart” of his mission if he was elected.
He said: “I think you have a right in London to expect this city to be safer. You have a right to expect the mayor will be judged on that.
“That [figure] will be published — and you get to boot me out if I don’t succeed. In the end, that is what accountability is.”
The move is similar to the pledge Mr Stewart made as prisons minister in August last year, when he said he would resign if he failed to reduce violence in 10 prisons within a year.
He was promoted to international development secretary in May 2019 but insisted he would not have had to resign on the basis of progress made in nine months.
“One of the things I learned is that it is really helpful to set a target like that,” he said.
“It changes the whole organisation. Initially people are terrified but actually they begin to organise themselves and put their energy behind it.
“I need to set a target like that for London, and a realistic timeline. I would be looking to consult on what a fair measurement is, and I expect we would be looking at something like a year or two.
There have been 119 killings in London this year, the majority of which were knife attacks. The victims include 23 teenagers, 21 of whom were stabbed.
Last month it was revealed that the number of knife attacks in London had risen to more than 15,000 in a year for the first time. However, the number of fatal stabbings fell by a third to 63, according to Office for National Statistics figures for the 12 months to June.
Mayor Sadiq Khan established a violence reduction unit at City Hall and backs a “public health” approach to tackling the long-term causes of violence. He has vowed to be “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” if re-elected.
Mr Stewart said: “[Making the city safer] can absolutely be done but it needs relentless focus. It’s not just about setting up new institutions — the Mayor has set up lots of new institutions.
“It’s about making them work. That is really about sweating the details. Part of that is just being on the scene, not for the press release, but being there with the community, and asking ‘What on earth happened here? Who was this guy?’” The mayoral election takes place in May.