Conservative Party leadership candidate Rory Stewart visits Wigan

An MP hoping to become Conservative Party leader is visiting Wigan.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 3:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 4:09 pm
Rory Stewart MP outside Wigan North Western station
Rory Stewart MP outside Wigan North Western station

Rory Stewart MP put photographs of himself on social media outside Wigan North Western train station and meeting a resident near the Grand Arcade Shopping Centre today (Wednesday).

He was also spotted outside Barclays bank on Market Place in the town centre.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He said on social media he was visiting Wigan due to the strength of its vote for Brexit in the 2016 EU referendum.

He also tweeted on Wednesday afternoon he was: "Really enjoying the conversations in Wigan".

As he toured the country meeting voters Mr Stewart also said he would double spending on climate change and the environment as he warned the UK must do more in the face of an "environmental cataclysm".

The International Development Secretary warned a million species could be lost and 100 million more people could be plunged into poverty unless more is done.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Stewart also said he would double the UK's diplomatic budget and "completely reframe" the intelligence services.

He said: "I want to make DfID (the Department for International Development) centred on climate change and the environment."

Mr Stewart said he wants to double the amount of DfID's budget being spent on tackling climate change, taking it from £1.1 billion to £2.2 billion.

He said the increase would be met over a five-year period.

Mr Stewart warned: "We are facing an environment cataclysm. Quite literally the ice shelf is going 10 times more quickly than people expected, we are about to lose maybe a million species on Earth and that is even before you count the fact that 100 million more people will be in poverty unless we tackle this. We have to tackle this."

Mr Stewart said there is a "climate emergency" which will drive worsening poverty unless something is done.

He said: "The real lesson of the last 10 to 15 years is that poverty and climate are actually one of the same thing.

"We are facing a people emergency and a climate emergency and it is the same emergency because actually that poverty is driven by the desertification in the Sahara, it's been driven by agriculture crops no longer being able to be grown in Africa, it is driven by a thousand factors."

Tanya Steele, chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund, said: "It's often the world's poorest who are the first to suffer but have done the least to cause it.

"Aid money alone will not be enough, though - we need to make sure we have the right policies to ensure we are reducing our impact on the world and that we are using our voice on the global stage to drive planetary solutions.

"Addressing the triple challenges of the climate crisis, nature decline and poverty eradication are the defining priorities of today."

Mr Stewart also said more money is needed to move Britain's focus from the Middle East to Asia and Africa.

He said: "If I was lucky enough to be prime minister, I would completely reframe our intelligence services, our defence services, our diplomats and our development.

"I think our diplomatic budget should be doubled, I think we should be moving our focus from the Middle East to Asia and Africa.

"The Middle East does matter but ultimately in the end places like Asia and Africa are going to be where the great opportunities and challenges of the next 50 years lie."