In Brief

Why does Rory Stewart want to sleep on my sofa?

London mayoral hopeful wants to learn more about the capital

The former Tory cabinet minister Rory Stewart is asking to sleep on Londoners’ sofas to learn more about the city as he vies to become the capital’s next mayor.

Launching his scheme, which he is calling #ComeKipWithMe, he said: “Fixing London’s issues - whether on crime, housing, or our air quality - will not come from issuing press releases or edicts from a distant office building.

“It comes from getting out into communities across the capital, staying with people – listening to their concerns, as well as their ideas for the best solutions.”

He added that he had already stayed “with a young man on a council estate in Lambeth, and with ‘the Queen of Newham’ who helps rough sleepers every single night”.

On a campaign video, he said: “I want to know your concerns and your ideas. And I promise to bring a sleeping bag and a box of chocolates!”

It seems an unorthodox move but as the Big Issue reminds us, before Stewart’s political career took off, he embarked on a two-year walk across Afghanistan that he turned into a book, The Places in Between.

However, responses to his latest plan have been predictably harsh on Twitter. Although one user praised it as a “cool idea,” they added that Stewart had made it seem “a tad creepy”.

Another compared it to Pulp's song Common People song while one commenter remarked that Stewart was proposing the “worst Tinder date ever”.

Stewart, a former international development secretay, is an independent candidate for the London mayoral election, which will be held on 7 May.

The Green Party co-leader Sian Berry, who came third in 2016 with 5.8% of the first-round vote, will run again this year. Shaun Bailey, a member of the London Assembly and a former special adviser to David Cameron, will represent the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats, who came fourth four years ago with Caroline Pidgeon, have put forward Siobhan Benita, a former civil servant who ran as an independent in the 2012 London mayor election.

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