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New Commons' Defense Committee chairman supported by Labor and Lib-Dem

Monday, May 19th 2014 - 09:44 UTC
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MP Rory Stewart, 41, former diplomat, Army officer who served in Iraq, author and above all is considered by his peers an “independent intelligent mind” MP Rory Stewart, 41, former diplomat, Army officer who served in Iraq, author and above all is considered by his peers an “independent intelligent mind”

Conservative MP Rory Stewart has been selected to chair the British House of Commons defense committee. In a short statement to the Commons, Speaker John Bercow said 479 MPs voted in the election for the post. In the final round of voting, Mr Stewart got 226 votes. His rival, Julian Lewis received 212 votes. There was one spoilt ballot paper.

MP Stewart replaces Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, who announced in January that he would resign in May.

MP Bercow said: “May I be the first on behalf of all colleagues in the House warmly to congratulate Mr. Stewart and I'm sure I speak for all colleagues also in thanking all of the other candidates who took part in the election.”

MP Arbuthnot said he wanted to prevent any perceived “conflict of interest” if he applies for a job in the arms trade after the next election. He had previously announced that he would leave Parliament rather than seek re-election when the UK goes to the polls in 2015.

Still just 41 years old, Stewart's career has already taken in an OBE and stints as an officer in the Black Watch, as a tutor to Princes William and Harry, a successful author, a Harvard academic and as deputy governor of Maysan province in southern Iraq.

MP Stewart's election is proof that he is held in high regard by his fellow MPs. Thanks to a rebellion against the power of the whips, backbenchers from all parties were eligible to vote and most of them, a total of 479, took the trouble to do so.

In seven rounds of single transferable voting, Stewart prevailed over seven other experienced backbenchers including some former ministers. All of them had military and defense expertise.

To win, MP Stewart needed votes from Labor and Liberal Democrat MPs. Clearly backbenchers are looking for an intelligent independent mind to hold the Government to account.

Before entering Parliament and serving in the Army, he walked 6,000 miles across Asia between 2000 and 2002, and founded an Afghanistan-based charity in 2005.

He has published books about his travels in Afghanistan and his experiences in Iraq, and currently serves on the Commons foreign affairs committee.

MP Stewart is from Scottish clan stock but was born in Hong Kong and brought up in Malaysia. He went to Balliol College Oxford. In 2012 he married an American aid worker, Shoshana Clark.

He has built up a strong affinity for his constituency of Penrith and the Borders and is well known for making his local visits on foot, walking thousands of miles in Cumberland, as he did before across Afghanistan.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • falklandlad

    Seemingly the best candidate for the position with an enviable track record by far. An independent intelligent mind, will be critical requirement if the UK is to maintain its “punching above the average” and maintaining UK “forces readiness” going forward.

    May 19th, 2014 - 10:58 am 0
  • ChrisR

    Best of luck to the government: they look like they may need it coming up against this guy.

    May 19th, 2014 - 02:22 pm 0
  • GeoffWard2

    But I think he is right to flag his departure from the Government and the House in 2015,
    before he takes up a highly lucrative job in the 'Arms Trade'.

    May 19th, 2014 - 05:53 pm 0
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