The former Penrith and The Border MP, who previously held a cabinet role as international development secretary, stood against Johnson in the last leadership election in 2019.
Speaking to Sky News last night, Stewart said Partygate should be the “last nail in the coffin” for Johnson’s government, and said it’s “ironic” that it’s the party scandal that could bring down the prime minister instead of the “record of bad government over the last year and a half”.
Rory Stewart - #PartyGate should be the last nail in Boris Johnson's coffin... Johnson was manifestly unsuited to be Prime Minister from the beginning, & it's very, very disturbing that a great country, like Britain, should have chosen somebody so unsuitable for the role.pic.twitter.com/sZK1PDoyJD
He said: “[Johnson] may be able to survive for another few months but he is badly wounded, and essentially in order to be a leader, you need credibility, you need supporters, you need energy, you need enthusiasm, you need confidence.
“And those are things that Boris Johnson had in great excess over the last few years and he’s lost, and it’s very difficult to see that returning and very difficult to see him being a credible leader again.”
Asked if he was surprised the prime minister got himself into such a mess, he said: “Not at all. We should all have expected this. He’s been a very famous public figure for 30 years.
“The British public has spent 30 years focusing on the fact that he lies, that he’s disorganised, that he betrays almost every personal commitment that he has.
“He was manifestly unsuited to be prime minister from the beginning and it’s very disturbing that a great country like Britain should have chosen somebody so unsuitable for the role.”
The party system in Britain has worsened over time, as “what they’re fundamentally about is winning, not running the country.”
He said Johnson was selected as they thought he would win a big majority, but we need to move beyond that to back candidates who are “serious, credible, and do dire jobs responsibly”.
It comes after Johnson has seen himself in a veritable pickle over continued party allegations. Former Conservative MP Christian Wakeford made headlines earlier this week after defecting to Labour over the scandal.
Meanwhile, he is also facing '"blackmail" allegations. Wakeford has since alleged that party whips threatened to scrap plans for a school in his constituency if he didn’t vote with the party in parliament.
Stewart called this “grotesque” and said such decisions should be based on need, not to buy “political favours”.
But Johnson said: “I’ve seen no evidence, heard no evidence, to support any of those allegations."
Speaking about the blackmail allegations, Stewart said the party system has bred “machines” which are about “winning and loyalty”.
And the whips are, of course, an essential cog in that system.
He said: “The whips will do all they can to try to defend the prime minister and it’s a very ruthless, often humiliating process where MPs who may have come from ordinary life… are put through this extraordinary hazing process of which the whips are part”.
He warned that whips, motivated by their own political goals, discourage MPs from voting with their conscience.
Twitter enjoyed Stewart’s straight-talking interview, with Scientists for EU founder Dr Mike Galsworthy praising the former MP’s clarity:
Listen to Rory Stewart on Boris Johnson\u2014 the sheer clarity is a thing of beauty.pic.twitter.com/pOS0PDhPjh
— Dr Mike Galsworthy (@Dr Mike Galsworthy)
Listening to Rory Stewart on @SkyNews and it's astonishing that the Tories chose that bumbling lying clueless idiot Boris Johnson over him. Irrespective of personal politics, he comes across as intelligent, articulate and reasonable. Everything that the PM is not. #JohnsonOut
— Jim Kavanagh\ud83d\udc99 (@Jim Kavanagh\ud83d\udc99)
You just have to admire Rory Stewarthttps://twitter.com/g_gosden/status/1484252501796868098\u00a0\u2026
What a beautiful interview from Rory Stewart\n\nI\u2019ve taken the best bits & popped them together\n\nHe is NOT holding back on Boris Johnson\n\nIt\u2019ll make you go \u2018ohhh\u2019\n\n#HasHeGoneYet #BorisJohnsonOut #blackmail #BorisTheLiarpic.twitter.com/SINCYQrn4c