Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Rory Stewart on the campaign trail for the Conservative Party leadership in June. Photo: Luke Dray/Getty Images

Rory Stewart, who challenged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the leadership of the Conservative Party earlier this year, announced Friday that he is leaving Parliament and the Conservatives to enter the 2020 race for mayor of London as an independent.

The big picture: Stewart's surprise announcement comes after he gained something of a cult following with an unorthodox leadership campaign, though he ultimately finished 5th. After Johnson expelled him and 20 other MPs from the party last month for defying him over Brexit, he floated the idea of a new centrist party along the lines of French President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche.

  • Stewart rose to national prominence during the leadership campaign by touring the country and blitzing social media, often personally visiting areas to meet with people using the hashtag #RoryWalks.
  • That concept stems from his pre-parliamentary career, when he wrote a book about his solo walk across Afghanistan in early 2002. His resume also includes tutoring Princes William and Harry and serving as a coalition governor in Iraq in 2003 at age 30.

The state of play: London's current mayor, Labour's Sadiq Khan, is seeking re-election. He heads into May's election as the heavy favorite, though his approval rating has fallen sharply. Khan's primary challenger is Conservative Shaun Bailey, a London Assembly member, who has faced controversy over his past comments on Hindus and Muslims.

  • London's mayoral ballot requires voters to select their top 2 choices with the winner selected via an automatic runoff between the top 2 candidates.
  • Stewart's centrist candidacy hinges on the notion that he'd be the clear second choice for a broad church of voters across the political spectrum, allowing him to pull out a win.

The bottom line: With no clear path for Stewart in Parliament under Johnson, this move — undoubtedly a longshot — will allow him to stay nationally relevant and continue to test his unorthodox campaigning style.

  • Should he succeed, Johnson has proven that the London mayorship can act as a viable stepping stone to 10 Downing Street.

Go deeper: Stewart sat down with Axios last month to discuss his fears about the "breaking" of British politics

Go deeper

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!