Rory Stewart, British politician, was born on 3 January 1973. Rory Stewart, follower of the “remain”,detonate a bit in Westminster. On paper, he has all the attributes of the perfect parliamentarian, to the point that some imagine him as future prime minister. Son of diplomat turned diplomat himself, raised in the best English boarding schools, including the very select Eton, then student at Oxford, teacher at Harvard, not to mention a trip by the army and a tutor job for young princes William and Harry, he’s all pure product of the British establishment. He was deputy governor of the coalition in Iraq in 2003, serving in the Balkans, Afghanistan, before becoming Conservative MP for Penrith and The Border on the border between England and Scotland. It was written, he says to have “always lived on a border”.The family estate of the Stewart is in Scotland, but in balance, between the Highlands and the Lowlands, his father, Brian, great diplomat and former chief spy of His Majesty was Scottish, his mother, Sally, English. “Afghanistan itself is a huge border between India and Iran,” he says. He was born in Hong Kong, then still a British colony, bordering China, the great passion of his father’s life. He has a younger four-year-old sister, Fiona, with Down syndrome, who taught her “that there are many different ways to be.”
In 2002, he set out on foot and traveled alone to Afghanistan from Herat in Kabul for thirty-two days, a trip from which he will pull a book, In Afghanistan, a huge success in the United Kingdom and the United States. “My life was transformed by this march, as a diplomat, it showed me the gulf between the reality of villages and that of diplomacy. That was the foundation of my thinking. ” He kept a certain skepticism about the doctrine of interventionism. “We failed in Afghanistan, in the Balkans. I thought maybe in Iraq we would learn from the past, but no, not really. ” He talks about South Sudan, which he knows well.”If you read the reports, the UN, the World Bank, you read” governance, accountability, sustainability “but not the mentions of the Nuer and Dinka tribes and their ancestral dispute over livestock, yet the crux of the problem.”
From his adventures, he also drew the conclusion “that one must always speak to everyone”. It is here that he breaks into a deeply polarized Parliament. He is astonished at his country “divided in two, in such a passionate disagreement, and so unwilling to make fundamental compromises.” Yet, he continues , “a mature democracy should show a willingness to compromise, which is not related to intellectual agility, but comes more from spiritual empathy . ” Asked if his prime minister, Theresa May, has this “spiritual empathy,” he dodges nicely.
In 2015, his father died in his arms, despite his efforts to try to revive him. The year before, he had given birth to his first son, the ambulance had not arrived quickly enough. In a few months, life and death, in his hands. Since then, he has had another son with his wife, Shoshana, an American woman met in Afghanistan while working together in a foundation created under the auspices of Prince Charles to preserve the old center of Kabul and help the local population. He’s still talking about his father. “His legacy was not a great philosophical or political vision, but a playfulness and a delight to act.”In the subway train, he is asked if the bag of knots Brexit does not give him want to flee very far and go walking alone. He answers without thinking and with a look that escapes. “Oh yes ! Absolutely! ” Then he gives us that broad smile that makes him look like an 8-year-old and runs towards Westminster.
Rory Stewart Full Biography and Profile
Rory Stewart OBE is the Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border – the largest geographical constituency in England – having been re-elected to office with over 28,000 votes in the General Election of May 2017. He was first elected as an MP in 2010.
In January 2018 he was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, having previously been the Minister of State for Africa in both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID) (June 2017-January 2018), and the Minister of State in DFID (June 2016-June 2017) and, prior to that, Minister for the Environment and Rural Affairs at DEFRA (May 2015-June 2016).
After the devastating floods of December 2015 – January 2016 Rory was appointed by the Prime Minister as Flood Envoy for Cumbria and Lancashire, overseeing recovery efforts, and was Chair of the Cumbria Floods Partnership. Before becoming a Minister in 2015, he served for four years on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and in 2014 was elected Chair of the Defence Select Committee by all parties in parliament as the youngest ever Select Committee chair.
His previous career was in foreign affairs, particularly focused on military intervention and international development. After a very brief period as an infantry officer (a Short Service Limited Commission in the Black Watch before University) he joined the UK Diplomatic Service, serving overseas in Jakarta, as British representative to Montenegro in the wake of the Kosovo crisis, and ?as the coalition Deputy-Governor of two provinces in the Marsh Arab region of Southern Iraq following the Iraq intervention of 2003. On leave from the Foreign Service he walked for 21 months crossing Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal, staying in 500 village houses on the journey.
From 2005 to 2008 he was the Chair and Chief Executive of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation based in Kabul, which he built from one to three hundred employees, working to restore a section of the old city, establish a clinic, primary school, and Arts Institute, and bring Afghan crafts to international markets.
In 2008 he was appointed as the Ryan Family Professor of the Practice of Human Rights and Director of the Carr Centre of Human Rights at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
He has written four books: The Places in Between (a New York Times bestseller, which describes his walk across Afghanistan in the winter of 2001-2002), Occupational Hazards or The Prince of the Marshes (which describes his time as an administrator in Southern Iraq), The Marches (which describes a walk through Cumbria and the Borders with his father), and Can Intervention Work? (with Gerald Knaus, an essay on military intervention).
He has presented three BBC television documentaries: In Search of Lawrence of Arabia, Afghanistan: The Great Game, and Border Country: The Story of Britain’s Lost Middleland. He has written over seventy articles on parliament, and UK politics (accessible on: www.rorystewart.co.uk).
He has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (for his work in Iraq), the Gold Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (for his work in Afghanistan), the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature, the Spirit of Scotland award, the Radio France award, the Prize del Camino del Cid (for his books), a Scottish BAFTA (for his documentary making) and honorary doctorates from Stirling University and the American University of Paris. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, and was a Fellow at Harvard from 2004 to 2005 before taking up his Professorial chair in 2008.
- Rory Stewart Biography and Profile (Rory Stewart)