Rory Stewart has abandoned his bid to become Mayor of London.
Announcing his decision on Wednesday, the former Conservative MP, Cabinet Minister and party leadership hopeful said it was impossible to continue after the election was delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Mr Stewart said he had faced the difficulties suffered by independent candidates, with Labour and the Conservatives having many more resources. Mr Stewart said;
“The point about an independent campaign is it needs to be a sort of quite quick insurgency where you really build excitement over a few months,”
“But you can’t beat these huge machines if you’re pushed into a nearly two-year campaign.”
Mr Stewart also announced the news in a video on his Twitter account.
Mr Stewart also said that it would have been dishonest to delay a decision on his campaign until after lockdown, adding “A lot of our donations were very small donations. I can’t let people continue to donate on false pretences.”
Rory Stewart has for some time been seen as a different kind of politician. In February this year, he launched #ComeKipMe, a campaign whereby he asked Londoners to invite him into their homes for a sleepover. Mr Stewart said at the time that walking through every borough was the only way Mayors could get to know their cities.
In June 2019, Mr Stewart was eliminated in the third round of voting by MP’s in the Conservative Party leadership contest. His #RoryWalks campaign appeared to appeal to a wide range of untraditional Conservative voters, however, he was ultimately not successful in the leadership campaign.
According to polls in March this year, Sadiq Khan is on course to win a second term in office as London Mayor when the election takes place in May 2021.