Page semi-protected

William Hague

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named William Hague, see William Hague (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
William Hague
Foreign Secretary briefing on recent visit to Pakistan (4743128802).jpg
First Secretary of State
In office
12 May 2010 – 8 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by The Lord Mandelson
Succeeded by George Osborne
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
15 July 2014 – 8 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Deputy Tom Brake
Preceded by Andrew Lansley
Succeeded by Chris Grayling
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
12 May 2010 – 14 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by David Miliband
Succeeded by Philip Hammond
Senior Member of the Shadow Cabinet
In office
8 December 2005 – 11 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Michael Ancram (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
Succeeded by Jack Straw (Shadow Deputy Prime Minister)
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
6 December 2005 – 11 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Liam Fox
Succeeded by David Miliband
Leader of the Opposition
In office
19 June 1997 – 13 September 2001
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by John Major
Succeeded by Iain Duncan Smith
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
19 June 1997 – 13 September 2001
Deputy Peter Lilley
Michael Portillo
Preceded by John Major
Succeeded by Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
5 July 1995 – 2 May 1997
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by David Hunt
Succeeded by Ron Davies
Minister of State for the Disabled
In office
20 July 1994 – 5 July 1995
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Nicholas Scott
Succeeded by Alistair Burt
Member of Parliament
for Richmond (Yorks)
In office
23 February 1989 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Leon Brittan
Succeeded by Rishi Sunak
Personal details
Born William Jefferson Hague
(1961-03-26) 26 March 1961 (age 54)
Rotherham, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Ffion Jenkins (1997–present)
Alma mater Magdalen College, Oxford
European Institute of Business Administration
Religion Anglicanism
Website Parliamentary website
Government website

William Jefferson Hague FRSL (born 26 March 1961)[1] is a British Conservative politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Richmond (Yorks) from 1989 to 2015. He also served as Leader of the House of Commons from 2014 to 2015, as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2010 to 2014,[2] and as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2001.

Hague was educated at Wath-upon-Dearne Grammar School, the University of Oxford and INSEAD, eventually being elected to the House of Commons in a by-election in 1989. Hague quickly rose through the ranks of the Major Government and was appointed to the Cabinet in 1995 as Secretary of State for Wales. Following a landslide defeat in the 1997 general election to the Labour Party, he was elected leader of the Conservative Party at the age of 36.

He resigned as leader of the Conservatives after the 2001 general election following a second landslide defeat, at which the Conservatives only made a net gain of one seat; he thus became the first leader of the party since the role came into being in the early 1920s not to become Prime Minister.[3] He returned to the backbenches, beginning a career as an author, writing biographies of William Pitt the Younger and William Wilberforce. He also held several directorships, and worked as a consultant and public speaker.

After David Cameron was elected Leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, Hague rejoined the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Foreign Secretary. He also took on the role of "Senior Member of the Shadow Cabinet", effectively serving as Cameron's deputy. After the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010, Hague was appointed First Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary. Cameron described him as his "de facto political deputy".[4]

On 14 July 2014, Hague stood down as Foreign Secretary to become Leader of the House of Commons in preparation for his planned retirement from parliament, after 26 years as an MP, at 2015 general election,[5] in which he did not stand for re-election. He was nominated for a life peerage in August 2015.[6]

Early life

Magdalen College, Oxford

Hague was born in Rotherham in Yorkshire. He initially boarded at Ripon Grammar School and then attended Wath-upon-Dearne Comprehensive,[7] a state secondary school near Rotherham, previously Wath Grammar School. Hague's father, Nigel, and mother ran a soft drinks manufacturing business for which he used to work during school holidays.[8]

He first made the national news at the age of 16 by speaking at the Conservative Party's 1977 national conference. In his speech he told the attenders, "Half of you won't be here in 30 or 40 years' time", but that others would have to live with consequences of a Labour government if it stayed in power.[9]

Hague studied PPE at Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating with First-Class Honours. He was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA), but was "convicted of electoral malpractice" in the process.[10] OUCA's official historian David Blair notes that Hague was actually elected on a platform pledging to clean up OUCA, but that this was "tarnished by accusations that he misused his position as Returning Officer to help the Magdalen candidate for the Presidency, Peter Havey. Hague was playing the classic game of using his powers as President to keep his faction in power, and Havey was duly elected... There were accusations of blatant ballot box stuffing."[11]

He was elected President of the Oxford Union. Following university, Hague went on to study for a Master of Business Administration degree at INSEAD. He then worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where Archie Norman was his mentor.[12]

Early political career

He was first an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Wentworth in 1987, but was then elected to Parliament in a by-election in 1989 as member for the safe Conservative seat[13][14] of Richmond, North Yorkshire, succeeding former Home Secretary Leon Brittan. Following his election he was the youngest Conservative MP. He is the subject of a portrait in oil commissioned by Parliament.[15]

Despite having only recently entered Parliament, Hague became part of the government in 1990, serving as Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.[16] After Lamont was sacked in 1993, Hague moved to the Department of Social Security (DSS) where he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. The following year he was promoted to Minister of State at the DSS with responsibility for Social Security and Disabled People.[16] His fast rise up through the government was attributed to his intelligence and debating skills.[17]

He entered the Cabinet in 1995 as Secretary of State for Wales.[16] To general ridicule his predecessor at the Welsh Office, John Redwood, had mimed the Welsh national anthem at a public event, and so Hague asked a Welsh Office civil servant, Ffion Jenkins, to teach him the words; they later married.[18] He continued serving in the Cabinet until the Conservatives were removed from power in the 1997 general election.

Leadership of the Conservative Party

Following the 1997 general election defeat, Hague was elected Leader of the Conservative Party in succession to John Major, defeating more experienced figures such as Kenneth Clarke and Michael Howard.

At the age of 36, Hague was tasked with rebuilding the Conservative Party (fresh from their worst general election result of the 20th century)[19] by attempting to build a more modern image. £250,000 was spent on the "Listening to Britain" campaign to try to put the Conservatives back in touch with the public after losing power; he was also influenced by the "compassionate conservatism" ideology of George W. Bush, the Governor of Texas.[20]

On one of these occasions he visited a theme park and he, his Chief of Staff Sebastian Coe, and the local MP took a ride on a log flume wearing baseball caps emblazoned with the word 'HAGUE'.[21] Cecil Parkinson described the exercise as "juvenile".

Hague steered the Tories to a successful result in the European parliament election in June 1999, where they gained 36 MEPs next to Labour's 29.[22] Hague hailed this result as a vindication of his opposition to the single European currency.[23]

Hague's authority was challenged by the promotion of Michael Portillo to the role of Shadow Chancellor in 2000. Portillo had been widely tipped to be the party's next leader before dramatically losing his seat in parliament in the 1997 general election, only to regain his place there in a by-election win two years later.[24] Within days Portillo reversed Conservative opposition to two of Labour's flagship policies, the minimum wage and independence of the Bank of England. From then and until the 2001 General Election Hague's supporters fought an increasingly bitter battle with Portillo's supporters.

Hague was widely ridiculed for claiming that he used to drink "14 pints of beer a day" when he was a teenager.[25][26] His reputation suffered further damage when a 2001 poll for the Daily Telegraph found that 66% of voters considered him to be "a bit of a wally", and 70% of voters believed he would "say almost anything to win votes".[27]

"Foreign Land" speech

At a party conference speech in March 2001, Hague said:

We have a Government that has contempt for the views of the people it governs.

There is nothing that the British people can talk about that this Labour Government doesn't deride.

Talk about Europe and they call you extreme. Talk about tax and they call you greedy. Talk about crime and they call you reactionary. Talk about immigration and they call you racist; talk about your nation and they call you Little Englanders ... This government thinks Britain would be all right if we had a different people. I think Britain would be all right, if only we had a different Government.

A Conservative Government that speaks with the voice of the British people.

A Conservative Government never embarrassed or ashamed of the British people.

A Conservative Government that trusts the people [...] This country must always offer sanctuary to those fleeing from injustice. Conservative Governments always have, and always will. But it's precisely those genuine refugees who are finding themselves elbowed aside.[28]

Former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, a prominent One Nation Conservative, was critical of Hague's allegation that Britain was becoming a "foreign land", and confessed in newspaper interviews that he was uncertain as to whether he could support a Hague-led Conservative Party.[29]

Skill in debate

Hague's critics were checked each Wednesday by his performance at Prime minister's questions.[30][31] During one particular exchange, while responding to the Queen's Speech of 2000, Hague attacked the Prime Minister's record:

In more than 20 years in politics, he has betrayed every cause he believed in, contradicted every statement he has made, broken every promise he has given and breached every agreement that he has entered into... There is a lifetime of U-turns, errors and sell-outs. All those hon. Members who sit behind the Prime Minister and wonder whether they stand for anything any longer, or whether they defend any point of principle, know who has led them to that sorry state.[32]

Blair responded by criticising what he saw as Hague's "bandwagon" politics:

... he started the fuel protest bandwagon, then the floods bandwagon; on defence it became armour-plated, then on air traffic control it became airborne...Yes, the right honourable Gentleman made a very witty, funny speech, but it summed up his leadership: good jokes, lousy judgment. I am afraid that in the end, if the right honourable Gentleman really aspires to stand at this Despatch box, he will have to get his policies sorted out and his party sorted out, and offer a vision for the country's future, not a vision that would take us backwards.[33]


On the morning of Labour's second consecutive landslide victory in the 2001 general election, Hague stated: "we have not been able to persuade a majority, or anything approaching a majority, that we are yet the alternative government that they need."[34] In the 2001 election the Conservative Party had gained only one seat from their disastrous 1997 election. Following the defeat, Hague resigned as leader.


On the backbenches he occasionally spoke in the Commons on the issues of the day. Between 1997 and 2002, he was the chairman of the International Democrat Union. Hague's profile and personal popularity have risen among both Conservative Party members and the wider public since his spell as party leader. He has written a biography of 18th century Prime Minister Pitt the Younger (published in 2004), taught himself how to play the piano, and hosted the 25th anniversary programme for Radio 4 on the political television satire Yes Minister in 2005. In June 2007 he published his second book, a biography of the anti-slave trade campaigner William Wilberforce, shortlisted for the 2008 Orwell Prize for political writing.[35]

Hague's annual income was the highest in Parliament, with earnings of about £400,000 a year from directorships, consultancy, speeches, and his parliamentary salary. His income was previously estimated at £1 million annually, but he dropped several commitments and in effect took a salary cut of some £600,000 on becoming Shadow Foreign Secretary in 2005.[36][37]

Along with former Prime Minister John Major, former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, and Hague's successor Iain Duncan Smith, Hague served for a time on the Conservative Leadership Council, which was itself set up by Michael Howard upon his unopposed election as Leader of the Conservative Party in 2003.

In the 2005 Conservative leadership election Hague backed eventual winner David Cameron.

He is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel, a group which he joined when he was 15.[38]

Return to the Shadow Cabinet

Following the 2005 General Election, the Conservative Party leader Michael Howard offered Hague the post of Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he turned the post down. Hague apparently told Howard that his business commitments would make it difficult for him to take on such a high profile job.[39]

On 6 December 2005, David Cameron was elected Leader of the Conservative Party. Hague was offered and accepted the role of Shadow Foreign Secretary and Senior Member of the Shadow Cabinet, effectively serving as Cameron's deputy (though not formally, unlike previous deputy Conservative leaders Willie Whitelaw, Peter Lilley and Michael Ancram). He had been widely tipped to return to the front bench under either Cameron or leadership contest runner-up David Davis.

On 30 January 2006, per David Cameron's instructions, Hague travelled to Brussels for talks to pull Conservative Party MEPs out of the European People's Party–European Democrats (EPP-ED) group in the European Parliament. (Daily Telegraph, 30 January 2006). Further, on 15 February 2006, Hague stood in during David Cameron's paternity leave at Prime minister's questions (PMQs). This appearance gave rise to jokes at the expense of Blair, that all three parties that day were being led by 'stand ins', with the Liberal Democrats represented by acting leader Sir Menzies Campbell, the Labour Party by the departing Blair, and the Conservatives by Hague. Hague again deputised for Cameron for several sessions in 2006.

Foreign Secretary

Hague met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after his appointment as Foreign Secretary.
Hague met Clinton's successor as Secretary of State, John Kerry, in April 2013.

Hague's appointment as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was Prime Minister David Cameron's first. He was also appointed to the honorary position of First Secretary of State. In his first overseas visit as Foreign Secretary, Hague met with United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, D.C.[40]

In August 2010, Hague set out a values based foreign policy. He said that "We cannot have a foreign policy without a conscience. Foreign policy is domestic policy written large. The values we live by at home do not stop at our shores. Human rights are not the only issue that informs the making of foreign policy, but they are indivisible from it, not least because the consequences of foreign policy failure are human".[41]

Hague said that "There will be no downgrading of human rights under this government and no resiling from our commitments to aid and development" he said. He continued saying that "Indeed I intend to improve and strengthen our human rights work. It is not in our character as a nation to have a foreign policy without a conscience, and neither is it in our interests."[42] However, in March 2011, Hague was criticised for increasing financial aid to Pakistan despite persecution of its Christian minority. Cardinal Keith O'Brien stated, "To increase aid to the Pakistan government when religious freedom is not upheld and those who speak up for religious freedom are gunned down is tantamount to an anti-Christian foreign policy."[43]

In September 2011, Hague told BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 investigation Cyber Spies into the legality of domestic cyber surveillance and the export of this technology from the UK to countries with questionable human rights records that the UK had a strong export licence system. The programme also obtained confirmation from the UK's Department for Business Innovation and Skills that cyber surveillance products that break, as opposed to create, encryption do not require export licences.[44]

In June 2012, Hague stood in for Cameron at PMQs when both Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg were out of the country.

In January 2013 he visited New Zealand, where he had talks with Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Leader of the Opposition David Shearer.[45]

Israel–Palestinian conflict

Hague was criticised by Israeli leaders after meeting with Palestinians who demonstrated against Israel's barrier in the West Bank. He expressed solidarity with the idea of non-violence and listened to the accounts of left-wing and Palestinian activists. Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni condemned the statements and said:

The security barrier has saved lives, and its construction was necessary. The barrier has separated Israel from Palestinian cities and completely changed the reality in Israel, where citizens were exposed to terror every day.[46]

2011 Middle East protests

In February 2011 security forces in the Bahrain dispersed thousands of anti-government protesters at Pearl Square in the centre of the capital, Manama. Hague told the Commons he had stressed the need for peaceful action in dealing with the protesters. At least three people died in the operation, with hundreds more injured. We are greatly concerned about the deaths that have occurred. I have this morning spoken to the foreign minister of Bahrain and our ambassador spoke last night to the minister of the interior. "In both cases we stressed the need for peaceful action to address the concerns of protesters, the importance of respect for the right to peaceful protest and for freedom of expression."[47]

Hague told Sky News that the use of force by the Libyan authorities during the 2011 Libyan civil war was "dreadful and horrifying" and called on the leader to respect people's human rights. A vicious crackdown led by special forces, foreign mercenaries and Muammar Gaddafi loyalists was launched in the country's second city Benghazi, which has been the focus of anti-regime protests. Mr Hague told Sky News' Murnaghan programme: "I think we have to increase the international pressure and condemnation. "The United Kingdom condemns what the Libyan Government has been doing and how they have responded to these protests, and we look to other countries to do the same."[48]

Foreign Secretary William Hague meeting Tunisian Foreign Affairs Minister Rafik Abdessalem, March 2012.

Following delays in extracting British citizens from Libya, a disastrous helicopter attempt to contact the protesters ending with eight British diplomats/SAS arrested and no aircraft carriers or Harriers to enforce a no fly zone he was accused of losing his mojo in March 2011.[49]

In March 2011, Hague said in a speech to business leaders that the examples being set in north Africa and the Middle East will ultimately transform the relationship between governments and their populations in the region. However following the row over whether Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was being targeted by coalition forces, the Foreign Secretary stated that the Libyan people must be free to determine their own future. Hague said: "It is not for us to choose the government of Libya—that is for the Libyan people themselves. "But they have a far greater chance of making that choice now than they did on Saturday, when the opposition forces were on the verge of defeat."[50]

Hague has warned that autocratic leaders including President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe could be shaken and even toppled by a wave of popular uprisings rippling out from north Africa. said that recent revolts against authoritarian leaders in countries including Libya and Egypt will have a greater historic significance than the 9/11 attacks on the US or the recent financial crisis. He stopped short of threatening military intervention against other dictators, but warned that they will inevitably face "judgment" for oppressing their people and suppressing democracy. Repressive African regimes will also face challenges from their populations and from the international community, the Foreign Secretary said: "Demands for freedom will spread, and that undemocratic governments elsewhere should take heed." He added: "Governments that use violence to stop democratic development will not earn themselves respite forever. They will pay an increasingly high price for actions which they can no longer hide from the world with ease, and will find themselves on the wrong side of history."[51]

Hague, on his way to Qatar summit in April 2011, called for intensified sanctions on the Libyan government and for a clear statement that Gaddafi must go: "we have sent more ground strike aircraft in order to protect civilians. We do look to other countries to do the same, if necessary, over time". "We would like a continued increase in our (NATO's) capability to protect civilians in Libya", he added. Whether NATO ratcheted up operations depended on what happened on the ground, Hague said. "These air strikes are a response to movements of, or attacks from, regime forces so what happens will be dependent on that", he said. Whether the Americans could again be asked to step up their role would also "depend on the circumstances", he added.[52]

Hague, speaking on the protests in Syria said "Political reforms should be brought forward and implemented without delay". It is thought as many as 60 people have been killed by security forces in the country today (22 April 2011), making it the worst day for deaths since protests against the president Bashar al-Assad began over a month ago, reports BBC News.[53]


Speaking on the Syrian Civil War in August 2011 Hague said of military intervention: "It's not a remote possibility. Even if we were in favour [of UN backed military action], which we are not because there's no call from the Arab League for intervention as in the case of Libya, there is no prospect of a legal, morally sanctioned military intervention. Hague added that it was a "frustrating situation" and that the "levers" at the international community's disposal were severely limited but said countries had to concentrate on other ways of influencing the Assad government. "We want to see stronger international pressure all round. Of course, to be effective that just can't be pressure from Western nations, that includes from Arab nations...and it includes from Turkey who has been very active in trying to persuade President Assad to reform instead of embarking on these appalling actions", he said. "I would also like to see a United Nations Security Council Resolution to condemn this violence, to call for the release of political prisoners, to call for legitimate grievances to be responded to", he added.[54]

On 24 February 2012, Hague recognised the Syrian National Council as a "legitimate representative" of the country. Hague also said Bashar al-Assad's government had "forfeited the right to lead" by "miring itself in the blood of innocent people". Hague said: "Today we must show that we will not abandon the Syrian people in their darkest hour". He added that "Those responsible for the murder of entire families, the shelling of homes, the execution of detainees, the cleansing of political opponents and the torture and rape of women and children must be held to account", he said.[55]

In March 2012, Hague ordered the evacuation of all British diplomats from Syria and closed the UK embassy in Damascus because of mounting security threats. Hague told Parliament: "We have maintained an embassy in Damascus despite the violence to help us communicate with all parties in Syria and to provide insight into the situation on the ground". He added: "We now judge that the deterioration of the security situation in Damascus puts our embassy staff and premises at risk.” Hague said that his decision “in no way reduces the UK's commitment to active diplomacy to maintain pressure on the Assad regime to end the violence". He went on to say that: “We will continue to work closely with other nations to co-ordinate diplomatic and economic pressure on the Syrian regime.”[56]

Hague meeting Ahmad Jarba, President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, on 5 September 2013

On 1 April 2012, Hague met 74 other nations at a Friends of Syria Group conference in Istanbul, Turkey. Hague said the issue could return to the United Nations Security Council if current efforts to resolve the crisis fail. The government of President Assad has said it accepts a peace plan by the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, but there has been little evidence that it is prepared to end its crackdown on the opposition. Hague accused Assad of "stalling for time" and warned that if the issue does return to the Security Council, he may no longer be able to rely on the backing of Russia and China, who blocked a previous resolution calling for him to stand down. "There isn't an unlimited period of time for this, for the Kofi Annan process to work before many of the nations here want us to go back to the UN Security Council—some of them will call for arming the opposition if there isn't progress made," Hague told the BBC. He added that "What is now being put to them is a plan from Kofi Annan supported by the whole United Nations Security Council, and this is an important point, it's supported by Russia and by China as well as by the more obvious countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Arab League and so on.[57]

On 20 November 2012, Hague recognised the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, and a credible alternative to the current Syrian government.[58]

On 29 August 2013, the British parliament refused to support the British government's plan to participate in military strikes against the Syrian government in the wake of a chemical-weapons attack at Ghouta.[59] Hague denied suggestions that he had threatened to resign over Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to go straight to a parliamentary vote.[60] After the vote, Hague continued to urge other governments to take action against the Syrian government, saying "If it is decided in the various parliaments of the world that no-one will stand up to the use of chemical weapons and take any action about that, that would be a very alarming moment in the affairs of the world".[61] Ultimately a negotiated agreement was reached to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

Elected EU president

Hague, Carl Bildt and Radosław Sikorski meeting Vlad Filat, Prime Minister of Moldova, February 2013

In June 2011, Hague dismissed Tony Blair's vision for an elected head of the European Union by insisting that member states have more pressing priorities than further "constitutional tinkering". Hague made clear his view after Blair argued that a directly elected president of Europe, representing almost 400m people from 27 countries, would give the EU clear leadership and enormous authority. In an interview with The Times, Blair set out the agenda that he thought a directly elected EU president should pursue, although he conceded there was "no chance" of such a post being created "at the present time". Asked about the former prime minister's call for further European integration and the creation of an elected president, Hague suggested that Blair may have been thinking of the role for himself. "I can't think who he had in mind", Hague joked. Hague added: "Elected presidents are for countries. The EU is not a country and it's not going to become a country, in my view, now or ever in the future. It is a group of countries working together.[62]

Taliban talks

In June 2011, Hague said that Britain helped initiate "distasteful" peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Hague made the comments while on a three-day tour of the country to meet President Hamid Karzai and visited British troops. He told The Sun newspaper that Britain had led the way in persuading President Barack Obama's administration that negotiation was the best potential solution to the conflict. He admitted that any deal might mean accepting "distasteful things" and could anger military veterans and relatives of the 374 British troops killed in Afghanistan. However, he said he believed that Britain as a whole was "realistic and practical" enough to accept that ending fighting and starting talks was the best way to safeguard national security. He told the newspaper: "An eventual settlement of these issues is the ultimate and most desirable way of safeguarding that national security." He added, "But reconciliation with people who have been in a military conflict can be very distasteful. In all these types of situations, you do have to face up to some distasteful things." The previous night President Obama told Americans that “the tide of war is receding” as he announced plans to withdraw 33,000 US troops from Afghanistan by September 2012.[63]

Comments on the euro

In September 2011, Hague said that the euro is "a burning building with no exits" for some of the countries which adopted the currency. Hague first used the expression when he was Conservative leader in 1998—and said in an interview with the Spectator he had been proved right. "It was folly to create this system. It will be written about for centuries as a kind of historical monument to collective folly. But it's there and we have to deal with it," he said. "I described the euro as a burning building with no exits and so it has proved for some of the countries in it," he said. He added "I might take the analogy too far but the euro wasn't built with exits so it is very difficult to leave it."[64]


In February 2012, Hague warned in a BBC interview about Iran's "increasing willingness to contemplate" terrorism around the world. He cited an attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, plus alleged involvement in recent attacks in New Delhi, Georgia, and Bangkok. He said it showed "the danger Iran is currently presenting to the peace of the world".[65]

Hague told the Commons on 20 February that if the Tehran regime managed to construct a viable weapon, its neighbours would be forced to build their own nuclear warheads too. He accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of pursuing "confrontational policies" and described the country's enrichment of uranium in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions as "a crisis coming steadily down the track". "Our policy is that whilst we remain unswervingly committed to diplomacy, it is important to emphasise to Iran that all options are on the table", Hague told the MPs.[66]

In March he condemned the way parliamentary elections were staged, claiming they were not "free and fair". He said the poll had been held against a backdrop of fear that meant the result would not reflect the will of the people. Hague said: "It has been clear for some time that these elections would not be free and fair. "The regime has presented the vote as a test of loyalty, rather than an opportunity for people freely to choose their own representatives. The climate of fear, created by the regime's crushing of opposition voices since 2009, persists."[67]

Falkland Islands

2 April 2012 marked the 30th anniversary of the start of the 1982 Falklands War. On 29 March, Hague delivered a speech to the entire foreign diplomatic corps of more than 100 ambassadors at a white-tie dinner in the City of London. Alicia Castro, the Argentinian ambassador, was due to attend. In the speech, Hague said the UK was keen to deepen its relationship with Latin America—and reiterated Britain's commitment to the Falklands. He said: "We are reversing Britain’s decline in Latin America, where we are opening a new Embassy in El Salvador. This determination to deepen our relations with Latin America is coupled with our steadfast commitment to the right of self-determination of the people of the Falkland Islands."

Tensions over the Falklands had risen in the weeks prior to the anniversary. In February, Hague said deployments of a warship, HMS Dauntless, and the Duke of Cambridge to the Falklands were "entirely routine". Hague said that Britain supported the islanders' self-determination and would seek to prevent Argentina from "raising the diplomatic temperature" on the issue. He said: "(The events) are not so much celebrations as commemorations. I think Argentina will also be holding commemorations of those who died in the conflict. Since both countries will be doing that I don't think there is anything provocative about that."[68]

Turks and Caicos Islands

Hague set out his plans, on 12 June 2012, for the reintroduction of self-government in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where direct rule of the Governor had been in place since the islands had been subject to corruption and maladministration under the previous local government.[69]

Julian Assange and right of asylum

In August 2012, Hague stated that Julian Assange, from Wikileaks organisation, would not get political asylum from United Kingdom.[70] Hague declared his intentions to extradite Assange and deliver him to Swedish authorities. Swedish authorities refused to interrogate Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.[citation needed]

Hague stressed the British government's position—that it is lawfully obliged to extradite Julian Assange. "We're disappointed by the statement by Ecuador's Foreign Minister today that Ecuador has offered political asylum to Julian Assange. Under our law, with Mr. Assange having exhausted all options of appeal, the British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. We must carry out that obligation and of course we fully intend to do so," he said.

Following an outcry over a Foreign Office note sanctioned by Hague that was sent to the Ecuadorian embassy—in which it raised the possibility of the revocation of their diplomatic status under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987—the Foreign Secretary said the UK remained "committed to a diplomatic solution" and played down suggestions that police might raid the Ecuadorian embassy, saying "there is no threat here to storm an embassy."[71][72]

The human rights activist and former ambassador Craig Murray[73] warned that using the 1987 Act to raid the Ecuadorian embassy would be a "breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961". Russia warned Britain against violating fundamental diplomatic principles (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and in particular the Article 22 spelling out the inviolability of diplomatic premises),[74] which the Government of Ecuador invoked.[75]

Leader of the House of Commons

Hague stood down as Foreign Secretary in the Prime Minister's cabinet reshuffle but stayed in the cabinet as leader of the house. He also remained as a member of the national security council and played a leading role in reaching out to voters in the north of England in the run up to the election. Hague stood down from parliament at the 2015 General Election.[76]

In a surprise motion on his last day in parliament, Hague moved to make the election for Speaker in the next parliament a secret ballot, in what was seen as an effort to oust the incumbent John Bercow. Charles Walker, chair of the Procedure Committee responsible for Speaker elections, stated that he had written a report on such an idea "years ago" and although he had talked to William Hague and Michael Gove that week, neither had told him their intentions. A visibly emotional Walker said "I have been played as a fool and when I go home tonight I will look in the mirror and see an honourable fool looking back at me." The government lost the vote 228 to 202 and Walker received a standing ovation.[77][78]

Personal life

William Hague married Ffion Jenkins at the House of Commons Crypt in 1997.

He is currently a Vice-President of the Friends of the British Library, which provides funding support to the British Library to make new acquisitions.[79] Hague is a Patron of the European Youth Parliament UK,[80] an educational charity organisation that runs debating competitions and discussion forums across the UK. Hague is also a judo practitioner.[81] He learnt the piano in his early 40s and has a keen interest in music. He is also an enthusiast for the natural history and countryside of his native Yorkshire.[82]

In early September 2010, newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Daily Mail published stories about allegations surrounding Hague's friendship with 25-year-old Christopher Myers,[83] a history graduate from Durham University whom he employed as a parliamentary special adviser. A spokesperson stated that "Any suggestion that the Foreign Secretary's relationship with Chris Myers is anything other than a purely professional one is wholly inaccurate and unfounded."[84]

On 1 September 2010, Myers resigned from his position in the light of the press allegations.[85] The media stories led Hague to make a public statement, in which he confirmed that he had "occasionally" shared a hotel room with Myers, but described as "utterly false" suggestions that he had ever been involved in a relationship with any man.[86] A spokesperson for the Prime Minister, David Cameron, reported that he offered his "full support" over the media rumours.[87] Figures from both within and without the Conservative Party criticised Hague for his personal response to the stories. Former Conservative leadership candidate John Redwood suggested that Hague showed "poor judgement",[88] whilst Labour-supporting Speaker's wife Sally Bercow commented that Hague had been given "duff PR advice".[89] Hague's political colleague and friend, the Conservative MP and government minister Alan Duncan, described the media coverage as "contemptible".[90]



  • William Hague MP (1989–95)
  • The Rt. Hon. William Hague MP (1995–2009)
  • The Rt. Hon. William Hague FRSL MP (2009–15)
  • The Rt. Hon. William Hague FRSL (2015–present)

See also


  1. ^ HAGUE, Rt Hon. William (Jefferson). Who's Who 2014 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Her Majesty's Government". 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Lord Carr of Hadley". Telegraph (19 February 2012). Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  4. ^ "William Hague quits as foreign secretary in cabinet reshuffle", BBC News, 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014
  5. ^ "William Hague to resign as foreign secretary in major cabinet reshuffle". The Guardian. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Arlidge, John; "Two die of meningitis at Hague's old school" The Observer 3 January 1999
  8. ^ "Profile: William Hague". BBC News. 14 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Your favourite Conference Clips". The Daily Politics (BBC). 3 October 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2008. 
  10. ^ Crick, Michael (5 October 2000). "Through a beer glass darkly – Profiles, People". The Independent (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  11. ^ David Blair, and ed. Andrew Page, The History of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA, Oxford, 1995), p.33
  12. ^ Roth, Andrew (20 March 2001). "Archie Norman". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  13. ^ General Election 2010: Safe and marginal seats, The Guardian, 7 April 2010
  14. ^ Electoral Calculus: Majority Sorted Seats
  15. ^ Murphy, Joe (13 January 2014). "Exclusive: MPs splash out £250,000 of public money on vanity portraits". Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c "Rt Hon William Hague MP – profile". Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2008. 
  17. ^ "William Hague". BBC News. 16 October 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "'Spin doctor' grooms Ffion's election look". BBC News. 2 May 2001. Retrieved 1 July 2008. 
  19. ^ "John Major: A life in politics". BBC News. 28 September 2002. 
  20. ^ "The all new William Hague". BBC News. 13 April 1999. Retrieved 1 July 2008. 
  21. ^ Stone-Lee, Ollie (26 December 2004). "Picture imperfect". BBC News. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 
  22. ^ "Tory joy at Euro victory". BBC News. 14 June 1999.  Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  23. ^ "Tories celebrate Euro poll success". BBC News. 14 June 1999. 
  24. ^ "Portillo, the Thatcherite who turned". BBC News. 13 June 2001. 
  25. ^ "Hague: I drank 14 pints a day". BBC News. 8 August 2000. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  26. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (9 August 2000). "Hague's 14 pints a day boast falls flat in his home town". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  27. ^ "Poll monitor: Labour looks hard to beat". BBC News. 9 February 2001. 
  28. ^ "Hague's 'foreign land' speech". The Guardian (London). 4 March 2001. Retrieved 13 July 2008. 
  29. ^ "Hague plays 'patriot' card". BBC News. 4 March 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  30. ^ Ivens, Martin (10 June 2007). "Back in the Tory fold, while they're a winning team". The Times (London). Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  31. ^ Campbell, Alastair (24 June 2007). "Wit, oratory – and evasion. A master debater at work". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  32. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 6 Dec 2000 (pt 6)". Hansard. Retrieved 13 July 2008. 
  33. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 6 Dec 2000 (pt 8)". Hansard. 
  34. ^ "This week's panel". BBC. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2008. 
  35. ^ "Shortlist 2008", The Orwell Prize
  36. ^ Browne, Anthony; Coates, Sam (10 November 2006). "Hague pays dearly for his promotion to the Shadow Cabinet". London: The Times (London). Retrieved 8 December 2006. 
  37. ^ House of Commons. "Full list of his registered interests". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  38. ^ "William Hague's Schmooze with the Jewish News". Totally Jewish. 25 March 2010. 
  39. ^ Watt, Nicholas (12 May 2005). "Hague rejects post of shadow chancellor". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 4 May 2008. 
  40. ^ "Hague discusses Afghan mission with Clinton in US". BBC News. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2010. 
  41. ^ Human rights are key to our foreign policy. The Daily Telegraph. (31 August 2010).
  42. ^ "Human rights to be at heart of diplomacy, insists Hague". BBC. (15 September 2010).
  43. ^ Johnson, Simon (15 March 2011). "William Hague accused of 'anti-Christian' foreign policy". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  44. ^ Grey, Stephen (20 September 2011). "UK firm denies 'cyber-spy' deal with Egypt". London: BBC. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  45. ^ "UK's Hague to meet McCully, Shearer". 3 News NZ. 15 January 2013. 
  46. ^ "Hague: I support activism against the security barrier". The Jerusalem Post.
  47. ^ "Bahrain violence: UK voices concern". BBC. (17 February 2011).
  48. ^ "Hague Condemns 'Horrifying' Libyan Violence". BSkyB.
  49. ^ "Foreign Secretary William Hague rejects quit claims". BBC. (13 March 2011).
  50. ^ William Hague: 'It is not for us to choose the Libyan government'. The Daily Telegraph. (22 March 2011).
  51. ^ William Hague: 'Arab spring' could topple Robert Mugabe. The Daily Telegraph.
  52. ^ Libya: William Hague calls on more powerful strike force. The Daily Telegraph. (13 April 2011).
  53. ^ William Hague 'extremely concerned at Syria violence'. (22 April 2011).
  54. ^ William Hague says no possiblity [sic] of military intervention. The Daily Telegraph.
  55. ^ "UK boosts Syria opposition ties, William Hague reveals". BBC. 24 February 2012. 
  56. ^ Blair, David (2 March 2012). "William Hague orders evacuation of all British diplomats from Syria". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  57. ^ Hague warning for Syrian president Archived 2 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  58. ^ "Syria conflict: UK recognises opposition, says William Hague". BBC. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  59. ^ Robert Winnett (29 August 2013). "Syria crisis: No to war, blow to Cameron". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  60. ^ "William Hague denies he was set to quit over Syria vote". The Independent. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  61. ^ David Blair (8 September 2013). "Syria: Hague says lack of military action would be 'alarming'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  62. ^ William Hague dismisses Tony Blair's vision of European Union presidency. The Guardian.
  63. ^ Bloxham, Andy. (23 June 2011) "William Hague: Talks with Taliban 'distasteful'". The Daily Telegraph.
  64. ^ "Euro is a burning building". BBC. (28 September 2011).
  65. ^ "Hague warns on Iran 'terrorism'". BBC News. 19 February 2012. 
  66. ^ "Iran debate part one". BBC News. 20 February 2012. 
  67. ^ "Hague condemns elections in Iran". Irish Independent. 2 March 2012. 
  68. ^ Hope, Christopher (29 March 2012). "William Hague tells Argentina 'we will steadfastly defend Falklands'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  69. ^ [1] Archived 16 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  70. ^ "Julian Assange asylum: Britain will not give safe passage, says William Hague – video". The Guardian. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  71. ^ "Hague ignored lawyers to send Assange 'threat' note". The Independent. 19 August 2012. 
  72. ^ "William Hague says there is 'no threat' to storm Ecuadorian embassy". The Telegraph. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  73. ^ "As Ecuador Grants Assange Asylum, Former UK Ambassador Says Embassy Raid Is Coming". Forbes. (16 August 2012).
  74. ^ "Russia issues warning to Britain over Assange" Archived 5 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  75. ^ (Spanish) "Declaración del Gobierno de la República del Ecuador sobre la solicitud de asilo de Julian Assange"
  76. ^ Allegra Stratton (15 July 2014). "William Hague quits as foreign secretary in cabinet reshuffle". BBC news. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  77. ^ Patrick Wintour (27 March 2015). "Tory backbench rebellion defeats Hague's attempt to unseat Speaker". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  78. ^ Ann Treneman (27 March 2015). "An honourable fool brings the House down". Times newspapers. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  79. ^ "Friends of the British Library Annual Report 2006/07" (PDF). Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  80. ^ Default Parallels Plesk Panel Page. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  81. ^ Morton, Cole (23 July 2000). "How judo made a man out of Hague". The Independent (London). Retrieved 11 June 2010. 
  82. ^ David McKie "William Hague – the piano years" The Guardian 5 November 2003. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  83. ^ Adam Gabbatt "Christopher Myers: the man in the spotlight". The Guardian 2 September 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  84. ^ Martin Beckford "William Hague denies inappropriate relationship with special advisor", The Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  85. ^ "William Hague's adviser Myers resigns". BBC News. 1 September 2010.
  86. ^ Kim Sengupta "Hague denies rumours he is gay—but special adviser steps down". The Independent. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  87. ^ "William Hague has 'Cameron's full support' over rumours". BBC News. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  88. ^ Nicholas Watt "John Redwoord reignites old feud as he criticises William Hague's 'poor judgement'" The Guardian 2 September 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  89. ^ "Speaker's wife criticises William Hague for revealing wife's miscarriages". The Daily Telegraph. 3 September 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  90. ^ "Coverage of William Hague's personal life is "contemptible" says Alan Duncan". The Daily Telegraph. 4 September 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
  91. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Leon Brittan
Member of Parliament
for Richmond (Yorks)

Succeeded by
Rishi Sunak
Political offices
Preceded by
David Hunt
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Ron Davies
Preceded by
John Major
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by
Liam Fox
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
David Miliband
Preceded by
David Miliband
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Succeeded by
Philip Hammond
Preceded by
The Lord Mandelson
First Secretary of State
Succeeded by
George Osborne
Preceded by
Andrew Lansley
Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Chris Grayling
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Major
Leader of the Conservative Party
Succeeded by
Iain Duncan Smith