Advertisement
Politics

Rory Stewart’s kipping on Londoners’ sofas on the Mayor campaign trail

The Independent candidate has promised to bring a “sleeping bag and a box of chocolates” in the bizarre stunt

Rory Stewart is hoping voters won’t sleep on what he is offering in his campaign to be London Mayor – by going round their house to stay with them.

The Independent candidate today launched his Come Kip With Me initiative, asking Londoners to get in touch to offer him a place to stay. In return, former Tory Penrith MP Stewart has promised to come round with a “sleeping bag and a box of chocolates”.

In a video announcing the plan, Stewart said: “Please have me to stay. It’s weird but the way that Mayors get to know their cities is by literally walking through every one of the 32 boroughs.”

Stewart, of course, would know that better than anyone else – in the days before his political career took off, he embarked on a two-year walk across Afghanistan that he turned into best-selling book The Places in Between.

His walks around London have already inspired a campaign where tackling rough sleeping is being billed as a priority. Stewart has pledged to halt rising rough sleeping numbers and halve the number of people sleeping on the streets by the end of his first term, if elected in the May vote, in 2024.

Advertisement
Advertisement

To do this, Stewart has vowed to launch 1,000 Housing First places within two years of taking office – and points to his experience of the approach in rehousing prisoners from Bristol, Leeds and Pentonville prisons when he was Prisons Minister.

He is also promising to set up a Rough Sleepers Unit modelled on the one set by New Labour in 1999 that will provide “real-time data” on performance across London and employ 30 Mayoral Stewards to work in areas of greatest need in the English capital.

All these policies have been informed by time spent with charities, outreach workers and rough sleepers over the last few months, claims Stewart.

“Every Londoner will be painfully aware of the tragic rise in the number of people sleeping rough on our streets. But the Mayor has not got a grip on it. Sadiq Khan has simply sprinkled some money here, and some hope there – not properly grabbing and addressing the issue.

“The level of rough sleeping in this city is a situation that shames us all, but no-one more than the Mayor – who has not taken sufficient action on this issue.

“Both national Government and the Mayor need to step up, because with energy and focus we can bring these numbers down – and if I was elected I wouldn’t rest until I did.

“People sleeping rough deserve better, London deserves better, it’s time for less politics, more action.”

Stewart’s plans have received the backing of Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes, who applauded his focus on Housing First and called for commitment to a pan-London strategy that would at least 2,300 tenancies. “This is critical to ending rough sleeping,” he said.

The Big Issue will also be quizzing Stewart on his London plans when we join him on, you guessed it, a walk. Check out next week’s magazine for more.

Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Flickr

Advertisement

Support The Big Issue Winter Appeal

Big Issue vendors can’t work from home and with severe weather warnings on the cards, they face a very tough and uncertain Winter period ahead.

Recommended for you

Read All
Boris Johnson confirms he will resign if he discovers he misled parliament
Partygate

Boris Johnson confirms he will resign if he discovers he misled parliament

The most embarrassing things Tory MPs have said to defend Boris Johnson
Partygate

The most embarrassing things Tory MPs have said to defend Boris Johnson

Minister quits over Covid fraud ‘failure’ - here’s how that money could be spent
Politics

Minister quits over Covid fraud ‘failure’ - here’s how that money could be spent

Nusrat Ghani Islamophobia scandal ‘could put ethnic minority women off a career in politics’
Politics

Nusrat Ghani Islamophobia scandal ‘could put ethnic minority women off a career in politics’

Most Popular

Read All
Government branded 'disgrace' after bid to strengthen Sarah Everard inquiry voted down at 12.30am
1.

Government branded 'disgrace' after bid to strengthen Sarah Everard inquiry voted down at 12.30am

What are the Kill the Bill protests?
2.

What are the Kill the Bill protests?

Rose Ayling-Ellis: 'Suddenly it became quite cool to be deaf'
3.

Rose Ayling-Ellis: 'Suddenly it became quite cool to be deaf'

The Met Police is being sued for not investigating a Downing Street Christmas party
4.

The Met Police is being sued for not investigating a Downing Street Christmas party