Conservative leadership candidate Rory Stewart has won plaudits after posting a video of himself speaking in Dari, the language of Afghanistan.
The International Development Secretary tweeted the clip of himself on Monday speaking to a member of the public in Barking, east London.
“Practising my now – rather rusty – Dari,” he said.
Mr Stewart, seen by bookmakers as an outsider for the top job, lived in Afghanistan for several years as chairman of a human development organisation.
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) May 27, 2019
He has since been called upon as a political adviser on the country and presented a BBC documentary called Afghanistan: The Great Game.
Social media commentators noted that his “rusty” use of the language was actually quite impressive.
“One of the better conversational Daris I’ve heard from expats,” wrote author and Afghanistan analyst Ahmad Shuja.
One of the better conversational Daris I've heard from expats. https://t.co/QfkmftjBMG
— A. Shuja (@AhmadShuja) May 28, 2019
Former Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim tweeted: “This is what Britain needs in its leader today. I’m supporting Rory for leader of @Conservatives because he has what it takes.”
— Sajjad Karim (@SHKMEP) May 27, 2019
And Kabul-based journalist Thomas Watkins responded: “Sounds pretty good to me…”
Several compared Mr Stewart to Pete Buttegieg, the multilingual outsider for the US Democratic presidential nomination.
Rory Stewart is the Pete Buttigieg of the Tory leadership contest. https://t.co/klfKx7WVB8
— Joshua Zitser (@mrjoshz) May 28, 2019
But Muslim Channel 4 News journalist Fatima Manji questioned whether it would get him the support he needed to become Tory leader.
She responded: “Afareen Agha Stewart! But most of the people you’re meeting aren’t members of the Tory party … so what’s the strategy for securing the leadership here?”
Afareen Agha Stewart! But most of the people you're meeting aren't members of the Tory party….so what's the strategy for securing the leadership here? 🤔
— Fatima Manji (@fatimamanji) May 27, 2019
Dari, a form of Persian, is one of two national languages of Afghanistan and is also known as Farsi.
Mr Stewart, who studied at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, said he has studied 10 other languages, including Latin, Greek, Indonesian and Serbo-Croat.
He was briefly a tutor to Princes Harry and William during his time at Oxford.
In something of a counterpoint, Mr Stewart posted a video the following day inviting people to meet him in affluent Kew Gardens, west London.
Now – if anyone is around and wants to talk – in Kew Gardens – for the next hour pic.twitter.com/E45A26Y5uR
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) May 28, 2019
He said the “slightly absurd” setting was a reminder of “the things we have in common”, such as our environment and climate.