Stewart, who ran against Johnson for the Conservative leadership in 2019, was appearing on BBC’s Question Time as he argued the troubled prime minister was preventing “British politics refreshing itself”, leaving a “huge, vacant hole in the centre of British politics”.
He was challenged by GB News presenter Tom Harwood about the “mythical centre of British politics”, and presented with the suggestion “this has been a very, very centrist government”.
The former international development secretary replied: “Not at all. I think the centre of British politics is about integrity. And in the end, the single thing that compromises everything he does is the lack of trust, the lack of integrity.”
He finished: “He lurches sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. But always in the direction of his own self interest.”
Harwood’s challenge was prompted by Stewart saying: “One of the real sadnesses here is that Boris Johnson clinging on by his fingernails to No. 10 is stopping British politics refreshing itself.
“Politics is becoming really dismal. Very, very sadly, the opposition is much, much better at criticising than producing any positive policies of its own. I think there is a huge, vacant hole in the centre of British politics for practical, sensible politics and instead, we are going into some kind of bizarre version of Berlusconi’s Italy.
“And the reason you cannot govern is that every week there is going to be another scandal, another by-election, another parliamentary committee and every week we are going to have this list of ‘mays’. He may do something on housing, he may do something on tax, rehash another press release to try to get him through the week.
“Let’s get rid of Boris and when we do, let’s make a better British politics.”
A Cabinet minister under Theresa May, Stewart put himself forward to become the party leader, but fell before the race was reduced to Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.
He then resigned from the Conservative Party a few months later and said he would stand down as an MP at the December 2019 general election. His post-Westminster life includes a podcast with ex-Labour spin chief Alastair Campbell.