Former leadership contender Rory Stewart walks out on Tories and quits as MP

Former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart has said he has quit the Conservative Party and will stand down at the next general election.

The former Cabinet minister was among the 21 rebels who had the whip removed by Boris Johnson when he defied him in the Commons by backing a move designed to block a no-deal Brexit.

The Penrith and The Border MP ran against Mr Johnson in the race to lead his party in June, but on Friday he announced his decision to quit.

"It's been a great privilege to serve Penrith and The Border for the last ten years, so it is with sadness that I am announcing that I will be standing down at the next election, and that I have also resigned from the Conservative Party," he tweeted.

He did not immediately give any reason for his decision to stand down or quit the party.

Mr Stewart served as international development secretary until his resignation from Government in July, shortly before Mr Johnson took office and undertook his drastic Cabinet reshuffle.

The firm opponent of a no-deal Brexit was among the rebels who voted to take control of the Commons timetable in order to pass legislation aimed at blocking a sudden exit from the EU.

The PM retaliated by ordering the controversial cull, which saw two former chancellors stripped of the Conservative whip.

Amber Rudd, a former Cabinet colleague who resigned from Mr Johnson's Cabinet and the Tory party last month, said the departure of an "outstanding" MP and minister was a "loss to politics".

"One of the strongest speakers in Parliament. Principled, patient, thoughtful. I feel certain he'll be back," she tweeted.

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