Rory Stewart has said today at a rally of supporters in Southbank that he will not be endorsing any of the candidates still left in the race.
The candidate was knocked out of the race yesterday after failing to gather the requisite number of votes.
He faced pressure from his rivals during the leadership debates, and today refused to publicly support any of the remaining contenders. However, he did say he would take part in the membership vote for the leader.
Addressing the crowd of supporters at a ‘thank you’ rally, he tweeted: 'I will not be declaring for anyone today - but I will be voting.'
Thank you so much for all the warm messages - I will not be declaring for anyone today - but I will be voting - see some of you later at 6pm https://t.co/ludWxQ1MJv— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) June 20, 2019
The international development secretary entered the race as a relatively unknown candidate but quickly made a name for himself as a ‘moderate’ and anti-no deal contender.
Mr Stewart was mocked online for his strange gestures and antics during the debate. At one stage he was seen awkwardly removing his tie.
I hate to be trivial but why did Rory Stewart take his tie off after a couple of minutes— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) June 18, 2019
In a humorous reference to the incident, he launched a video following the defeat of his leadership bid thanking his supporters for an “incredible campaign” while removing his tie throughout. He ended the video with the prologue: “Rory walks on.”
In a later event he encouraged others to “come and join” him.
“I would love to say thank you. I would love to keep the conversation going. I have been so buoyed up and energised. I am not disappointed by this result because I think we are uncovering something extraordinary in this country and in British politics,” he said.
Mr Stewart made speaking to voters around the country, under the title #RoryWalks, a centrepiece of his campaign.
His opposition to a no-deal Brexit made him the likely candidate for “soft Brexit” Conservatives. Following his defeat, there are now no contenders left advocating for Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement.
Now that Sajid Javid has also fallen from the race, it will be up to the Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, the remaining challengers to frontrunner Boris Johnson, to appeal to those votes.
The penultimate round and final MP-exclusive vote will be help today at 6pm to decide the last two contenders of the Tory leadership race, one of which will become prime minister of the UK.