MPs have tried to take their own lives because of the "almost unsustainable" nature of their job, a former minister has said - saying it's a miracle none of his ex-colleagues have done so.
In a harrowing insight into the pressures MPs face, former international development secretary Rory Stewart said he was aware of cases where politicians had nearly died by suicide. Mr Stewart told GB News: "I don't want to talk about the specifics because this is deeply personal to people but, yes, colleagues tried to kill themselves.
"These are people I knew. And in very serious ways - I mean they almost killed themselves. It's a miracle they aren't dead. There were other colleagues who had total breakdowns in the most humiliating, personal, embarrassing fashion possible, in public."
Mr Stewart continued that the weight on expectation on MPs to always have the answers is impossible to manage. He stated: "I think it is because the gap between the way that MPs are encouraged to present themselves to the public and who they really are is almost unsustainable.
"It's mad, because you're pretending to be all-knowing, perfect, dynamic, confident. You are pretending that you've got the answers to everything, and that 'I know where we're going'. The truth is, this is a country of 70 million people, and politicians don't really know what's going on. And yet we pretend to the public that we do."
Former Tory leadership candidate Mr Stewart- who left the Commons in 2018 - said he "despised" what he became during his time as an MP. Speaking ahead of publication of his new memoir, Politics On The Edge, he said: "I ended up despising myself.
"I would find myself sort of creepily trying to sit next to David Cameron at lunch, and I'd send these texts saying, you know, 'Congratulations on your latest policy' that I didn't really believe in. And so I began to feel that I was being made, in my early 40s, into some kind of child.
"I'd been the acting governor of an Iraqi province responsible for three million people, and a Harvard professor, and I'd run a charity in Afghanistan. I thought that I was a reasonably substantial person. And I realised that, as soon as I became an MP, all that was wiped out. Nobody takes you seriously anymore."
But he distanced himself from the current Tory regime. He said he parted ways with the Conservative Party because "I belong to a tradition of a much more centrist, more traditional conservatism", adding: "Also, I don't feel comfortable in the direction that the party's going at the moment."
But he said he is not a Labour supporter and believes that both major political parties are "basically old, dead and broken". He said that, while there are "some wonderful people at Parliament", there is also a group of people who are very, very bitter - unfortunately, mostly men - who feel passed over and feel that their basic mission in life is to try to humiliate other people".
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