Col Stewart, who is seeking re-election in the Beckenham seat he has held for the Conservatives since 2010, is a Brexiteer who believes Mr Johnson had “no choice” but to call a national poll to resolve the gridlock which has gripped the country. However, speaking at a reception at the Gherkin in central London hosted by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo – and the night before Mr Johnson officially launched the party’s election campaign today – he admitted his disappointment that the Prime Minister had not managed to keep his “do or die” pledge to take the UK out of the bloc by October 31.
And he stressed the importance of him securing a working majority to enable him to get his Brexit deal over the line.
Col Stewart told Express.co.uk: “I did think Boris had some magic solution to take us out by October 31 but it turned out he didn’t.
“I think he just had a lot of confidence.”
He stressed he was “reasonably confident” of the Tories securing a working majority in the region of 20 seats on December 12.
However, he added: “We can’t afford to have Labour taking two points a week out of us like we did last time.”
He acknowledged Mr Johnson was an altogether better campaigner than predecessor Theresa May, who was widely perceived to have struggled to connect with the electorate in 2017.
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Nevertheless, Mr Johnson’s decision, while inevitable given the circumstances, was a risk, he admitted, adding: “If there’s a hung Parliament we’re f****d.”
Col Stewart’s remarks echo those of fellow Tory Robert Halfon, who is also seeking re-election as MP for Harlow in Essex.
He told Express.co.uk: “Of course it’s a risk – but that’s what leaders do. Leaders lead, and Boris wants to do a lot of things for our country in terms of the NHS, police, education, housing and cost of living and we’ve got to make that case to the British people.
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“We can’t carry on like this and I’d rather Boris led and took those risks rather than just be in a bunker in Downing Street.”
Pressed about the possibility of a hung Parliament, Mr Halfon was less candid than Col Stewart – but admitted it was a worry.
He said: “I don’t know the answer to that at the moment.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen – I think people know they’ve got to make a decision either way, either way, in Labour or the Conservatives.
“Either they choose Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of a second referendum, stopping Brexit – Emily Thornberry said it’s a remain country to the People’s Vote campaign – or they go for Boris’s vision, which is respecting the referendum result, leaving the European Union and getting a good deal.”
Speaking days days before Mr Johnson finally succeeding in forcing an election, pollster John Curtice told Express.co.uk days before Mr Johnson finally succeeding in forcing an election: “As far as Boris Johnson is concerned, there are two risks. He knows he has to win any election outright.
“He knows he has lost the DUP and it’s not clear that he has any friends in the House and unless the Tories can win at least 21 seats to win an overall majority, they won’t be able to form a Government.
“It’s an asymmetric contest – the Tories do have to win, but Labour just have to stop them winning an overall majority.