Britain doesn’t make men like Rory Stewart any more. The former diplomat has trekked 6,000 miles across Asia; at 28, wrote a best-selling book, The Places in Between, about the walk; was governor of a province in Iraq at 29; and last year, as well as becoming a Harvard professor, was hailed by Esquire magazine as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century. Brad Pitt has already bought the rights to his biopic. And he’s only 36.
Now the man The New York Times once described as “living one of the most remarkable lives on record” has been selected for the safe Conservative seat of Penrith and the Border (the current MP, David Maclean, is stepping down because of ill-health). News of Stewart’s selection has been universally well-received, even by commentators on the Left: a Guardian columnist, no less, said Stewart was “a guy I’d vote for, whatever his party”.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” says Stewart of his selection. He is about to fly to Harvard and hand in his resignation before returning to start work on his campaign. He wants to buy a home in the middle of the constituency – the largest in Britain – so that he can reach anywhere within a day by foot. Indeed, he has already spent 10 days walking from his parents’ home in Crieff to Penrith to familiarise himself with the landscape. He is tickled by my suggestion that he might become known as “The Walking MP”. [continued…]