TWO of Cumbria’s Conservative MPs have reflected on the state of UK politics as the nation prepares for news of who will be our next prime minister.

If the bookies are right, and Boris Johnson is tomorrow named as the new occupant of Number 10 Downing Street, his former leadership rival Rory Stewart has vowed to step down from his cabinet post as international development secretary.

The Penrith and the Border MP has said he would not serve under Mr Johnson.

Speaking last Friday, Mr Stewart said: “Why did we lose the word ‘how’ from politics?

“Very little of the leadership campaign was about how to deal with things. It was about people just claiming that they were going to do this, or do that; or get a new deal from Brussels. Nobody ever really asked about how they were going to be able to do that.”

Mr Stewart called for a return to what he called “mature politics”, with politicians judged on the credibility of their plans.

He said that he now fears a no-deal Brexit is now more likely than ever, given that both Jeremy Hunt and Mr Johnson have said clearly that they are determined to keep that option on the table.

“What I’m most worried about is the potential impact of that on Cumbrian farmers,” said Mr Stewart, arguing that neither of the remaining candidates had offered clarity on this issue.

“I’m terribly worried that this is going to lead to very severe problems for our farming businesses - particularly small farmers who are very dependent on exports to Europe.”

Of his most recent ministerial role, he said he had sought to focus on three issues.

The first was putting climate change at the heart of British politics; the second was putting more money into battling the African Ebola crisis; and the third was the work to inject British expertise into development work on the ground.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson said the leadership race had exposed an underlying “unity” within his party. “It’s been good for our party,” he said.

“The two [remaining candidates] have very contrasting styles: one is more technocratic; and the other more charismatic. Both would bring strengths to the role. The more interesting thing is that if you take away the Brexit issue you can see that we’re pretty united around fundamental policy issues.”

Mr Stevenson said he still believed it would be possible for the new PM to broker a deal with Europe.

He said he had detected a softening of the stance from Ireland over the controversial border backstop issue, which has previously scuppered agreement in Parliament.

Critics say the existing proposal, designed to prevent a hard border between the north and south of Ireland, would trap the UK in a customs union indefinitely.

The MP added: “I am personally a long-standing supporter of getting an agreement with the EU because it would be in the interests of both sides.

“Nobody actually has any clear idea of the consequences of no-deal. It would be a leap into the unknown. There will be positives and there will be negatives.”

As for the future, whichever candidate wins, Mr Stevenson believes three new policy areas will emerge and benefit the UK: further expenditure on the country’s police forces; more investment in education; and more emphasis on boosting northern England. “There’s broad consensus on these issues,” he added.