Beckenham MP Bob Stewart rejects approach to oust Cameron
PUBLISHED: 13:34 12 September 2012
Beckenham MP Bob Stewart found himself at the centre of a political furore this week after revealing he "batted away" an approach by Tory colleagues to oust David Cameron.
The former British UN Commander claims he was asked to pledge his support for a rival to the Prime Minister, thought to have been Mayor of London Boris Johnson, though he would not give a name.
The approach came before the recess in July, but Mr Stewart revealed the details of the comments only recently after being questioned by a Westminster journalist.
He said: “It was almost a throwaway comment, or at least I thought it was.
“I had just come back after recess and a journalist asked me if it was true. I wasn’t going to lie or say ‘no comment’.
“I don’t want Westminster convulsing itself with the distraction of a sideshow, so that puts me against any challenge to the leadership.
“I said I would represent the people of Beckenham and not become a stalking horse. I know I am quite popular in the party and I batted away those comments straight across the boundary.”
Tory London Assembly member for Bromley and Bexley, James Cleverly, says Mr Stewart’s reaction is typical of his military character and believes Mr Johnson has previously made his position clear.
He said: “From what I read the guy’s got short thrift from Bob. He’s a military man and doesn’t take rubbish. He understands loyalty and teamwork.
“Boris loves being mayor and must be naturally flattered. If people were throwing my name into the hat I would love that but we have really important issues to deal with in London.”
However, the mayor is understood to have discussed the idea of standing in a by-election to prevent the planned expansion of Heathrow.
He has been vocal in his disapproval of Mr Cameron’s decision to remove transport secretary Justine Greening in the reshuffle, claiming it to be a stepping stone in a U-turn over a third runway.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “It’s no secret the mayor opposes the building of a third runway. He was re-elected opposing any such notion, he’ll continue to oppose any such notion, and he’ll be doing it as Mayor of London.”