The Brexit Party rallies behind Rory Stewart after he says he would work with Nigel Farage

PUBLISHED: 18:55 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:55 17 June 2019

Conservative party leadership contender Rory Stewart arrives for a TV debate - with Boris Johnson declining to take part. (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Conservative party leadership contender Rory Stewart arrives for a TV debate - with Boris Johnson declining to take part. (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

The Brexit Party has rallied behind an unlikely candidate in the Tory party leadership contest in the form of centrist Rory Stewart.

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Despite ruling out a no-deal Brexit, and looking like the continuity candidate of Theresa May, Nigel Farage has been eager to praise the MP after he became one of the few candidates to refuse to rule out working with the Brexit Party leader.

Speaking on LBC Radio, he told Farage: "You represent such an important part of this debate," he said.

He added: "The fact you actually lead us out of Europe in the first place puts you in a very important position in this. We need to find a way, as a party, of reaching out to you. Not only to you, I also want to reach out to trade unions and other people in this country who care our economy … but we must reach out to you and bring you in to try to work out how we crack this."

Momentarily taken aback, Farage replied: "Well, Rory, interesting. I tell you, when it comes to getting us out of the European Union, and getting us to be sovereign country, I would meet with anybody and I'd travel anywhere to do that."

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Farage went on to praise Stewart for "setting alight" the leadership contest and praised his "terrific campaign". By contrast, Farage criticised Johnson for being "untrustworthy" and likely to break his promises on Brexit.

But he isn't the only Brexiteer voice speaking in support of Rory Stewart. Leave.EU communications director Andy Wigmore said he was "clearly intelligent" and that he would "love to see him up against Boris Johnson in the final two."

Journalist and Brexit Party supporter Isabel Oakeshott branded him "principled, funny, clever and different".

She wrote: "As a Brexit Party supporter I should baulk at @RoryStewartUK getting any further. Yet he rejects revoke; rejects remain and rejects a 2nd ref. He's principled, funny, clever, different. And if he fails to deliver by Oct 31st, then hey ho for the @brexitparty_uk."

It is not entirely clear what the Brexit Party's strategy is by backing Rory Stewart. Is it that they want a prime minister who will give their leader more influence? Or is it that they view Stewart as most helpful to keeping the Brexit Party dream alive?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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