LONDON (Reuters) - Rory Stewart, who less than four months ago was running to become prime minister and leader of Britain’s governing Conservative Party, will stand as an independent in the 2020 contest to become Mayor of London, he said on Friday.
Stewart, who came fifth in the contest to succeed Theresa May, had taken one of the most moderate stances on Brexit among the candidates but has now quit the party to enter the race to run Britain’s capital city.
“I’m getting away from that gothic shouting chamber of Westminster, I’m getting away from politics which makes me feel sometimes as though (U.S. President Donald) Trump has never left London,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.
“This is a city that is now in real danger, danger from Brexit, from technological change, but I think above all from what has happened in British politics, to the kind of extremism that is taking over our country.”
Current mayor Sadiq Khan, from Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, comfortably won the 2016 contest but he has faced criticism over crime rates and transport issues such as the delayed Crossrail project from opponents including his main challenger, Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey.
The contest, due to be held in May, could be overshadowed by Brexit if Britain’s departure from the European Union, set to take place on Oct. 31, is delayed again.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Kate Holton