Rory Stewart 'would quit as London Mayor' if he couldn't end street killings
Rory Stewart has pledged to resign as London Mayor if he does not improve safety on the capital’s streets in a four-year term. The former Conservative candidate to be Prime Minister is standing as an independent in next May’s contest, in an attempt to block Sadiq Khan’s re-election.
He highlighted knife crime as one of his main priorities for the city, along with ‘making stuff work’ – mainly transport – and improving air quality on the tube. In an exclusive interview with Metro.co.uk, the former cabinet minister said he would consult experts on how to measure improvements in safety levels if he becomes mayor and criticised both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.
The former Penrith and the Border MP explained today: ‘We need finally to have a mayor that says “I am responsible for this, if this goes wrong it is my fault, I am going to resign” – and you can say to me at the end of four years “do you feel safer than you did four years ago, is your commute quicker, is your housing more affordable?”
‘And if not, it’s my fault, nobody else’s.’
However, he did suggest that a major policing job could also be under threat if his own target as mayor was not met. Violence has become a major concern in the capital, with recorded knife crime nationwide hitting a record high this summer, up 8%.
Asked what he would resign over and how it would be measured, Mr Stewart, 46, said: ‘Safety above all. ‘If I did not succeed in making this city safer I would resign – and I would want a very, very clear discussion, openly with the public and with journalists, about how that’s measured, so nobody accuses me of playing with numbers.
‘I want that all set up in advance – this is the framework, I’m going to get experts to look at the framework, this is how we are going to judge this.
‘Then I put my career on the line and I put the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police’s career on the line’.
Mr Stewart pulled a similar stunt while he was Prison Minister, suggesting he would leave the post if he failed to reduce prison violence, before he went on to become Secretary of State for International Development. He is also facing competition from Conservative Shaun Bailey, Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita and Green Party leader Sian Berry for the post. Mr Bailey admitted to Metro.co.uk that he would increase travel fares in London if he took power – something Mr Stewart refused to rule out doing himself.
When asked about the state of his former party, Mr Stewart said it had lost its pragmatism and been taken over by ideologues. Yet he was critical of both Labour and the Conservatives over their ‘eye-watering’ election spending pledges, suggesting the parties had ‘blasted through the glass ceiling of reality’.
The married father-of-two, who lives in London, also laid out further concerns around Brexit, suggesting ‘five or six years’ were necessary to complete a trade deal, leading him to fear that Britain could be heading towards a no deal scenario late next year, if the Conservatives win a majority.
Eton and Oxford-educated Mr Stewart suggested his former party – which he resigned from after having the whip removed over Brexit in September – had fallen to the ‘politics of denial’ over Brexit, conceding it had been taken over by its right wing.
He added: ‘The missing word in politics always is “how”.
‘What we are allowing is politicians on all sides to either say “I believe in Brexit” or “I’m against Brexit, I’m for remain” and none of that is any use. ‘Everybody is in denial.’ He admitted to having regrets about his campaign to become PM, labelling parts of his pitch ‘boring’ and a performance in one BBC debate ‘disastrous’. Mr Stewart also blasted the PM over not being interviewed by Andrew Neil, saying it was the ‘wrong thing to do’ and labelling it ‘grossly unfair’ that Jeremy Corbyn and other parties faced a grilling that Mr Johnson looks likely to avoid.