Ex-Tory minister Rory Stewart pulls out of race to be London mayor ‘because of coronavirus’

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FORMER Tory minister Rory Stewart has pulled out of the race to be London mayor – saying his bid to run the capital was killed by the coronavirus.

The one-time candidate for the Conservative party was standing as an independent, but said he could not count on an army of volunteers to keep working for him after the election was delayed for a year because of the pandemic.

Rory Stewart abandoned his bid to become Mayor of London after the campaign was postponed because of coronavirus

In a recent poll, Mr Stewart, 47, was due to come third in the race behind Labour’s Sadiq Khan and Tory Shaun Bailey.

Mr Stewart said: “In such a grinding, costly, prolonged campaign the big party machines have the overwhelming advantage.

“I could not put our volunteers through another 12 months of campaigning in an environment completely changed by coronavirus and with the odds now so steeply against us.”

He said he was giving up hopes of securing his “dream job” because of the difficulties independent candidates faced against the Labour and Conservative “machines” able to call on an army of canvassers.

He added: “We were on our way to a great battle this time round, I thought.

“One of the team just said: ‘It’s like one of those drag races – we built our car but we never really got to race it properly.’

“It’s been a very difficult decision. It’s a job I really, really dreamed of. I don’t think I will ever find another role in the world which would be as exciting or satisfying as that. It would have been a great, great privilege. There is no city like it in the world.”

Rory Stewart, who was running as an independent, dropped out of the London mayor race on Wednesday

Mr Stewart invited Londoners to join him on his walks across the capital as part of his campaign

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