BORIS Johnson came under fire yesterday for boycotting last night’s Channel 4 debate between the candidates for the Tory party leadership and the position of unelected prime minister.
Appearing on the BBC Andrew Marr Show, leadership contender Rory Stewart said: ‘Who would you trust to be your prime minister? How is Boris going to deliver Brexit, how? He keeps saying that he’s going to deliver it. How?’
Marr said: ‘You don’t trust him, you don’t trust him to be prime minister?’
Stewart replied: ‘I don’t even know what he believes. He won’t talk to me, he won’t talk to you. He won’t talk to the public. We want to know what he believes. We want him to sit at this debate tonight and tell us.’
Dismissing the idea of getting a new deal from the EU, Rory Stewart said other candidates ‘who are promising what they can’t deliver are going to let people down terribly’.
Stewart also insisted ‘there is no new negotiation with Europe’, saying that the EU has made it clear they would not revisit the withdrawal agreement.
Instead he proposed setting up a ‘citizens jury’ to break the Brexit impasse by taking the matter out of the hands of parliament and the electorate.
Andrew Marr ridiculed him over this, saying: ‘You would simply open up another parliament in the Methodist Central Hall over the road …’ Stewart replied about his alternative to parliament: ‘If somebody suspended parliament. If they literally tried to block our parliamentary democracy, I’m very confident that every single member of parliament would join me …
‘So that would be like a jury selected very scientifically across the country, whittled down to be representative of the country as a whole, giving them three weeks to go through the details of it and then make recommendations.’
Marr said: ‘They’re chosen by rote, effectively. So somebody watching this programme right now has to realise that if Rory Stewart makes it all the way through and becomes Prime Minister they may get a phone call in late August, early September saying: “Terribly sorry, give up what you’re doing, your job is now to come and sort out Brexit for us.” That seems like passing the buck.’
Stewart responded: ‘Much sooner than that is the first thing: That I’d want to get this done soon, so I hope they’d get the phone call in late July, and it would work like this: You would go to select randomly from the electoral register 50,000 people.
‘You would then, as you say, write or phone them to check who’s available. And then you’d use a polling company to make sure they were representative of the country, north against south, women against men, Brexit against no Brexit.