William Hague MP

26 Aug 2013 09:56:12

Bridgen, Wollaston and Stewart among the Tory MPs pushing for Parliament to have a say in any Syria action

By Peter Hoskin
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It’s no surprise that Tory MPs are joining Douglas Alexander in seeking a recall of Parliament ahead of any military action in Syria. After all, 81 of them signed a letter to David Cameron in June, demanding a vote on any decision to dispatch British arms to the rebels.

And it’s also no surprise that the author of that letter, Andrew Bridgen, is among the most insistent voices this time around, now that missiles appear poised to strike at Assad. “We need to recall Parliament immediately, if that’s what’s on the table,” is how he put it on the radio yesterday. “I want to hear what the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary has to say at the despatch box.”

Continue reading "Bridgen, Wollaston and Stewart among the Tory MPs pushing for Parliament to have a say in any Syria action" »

2 Mar 2013 12:45:14

We're governed less by professional politicians than we think

By Paul Goodman
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The combination of Eastleigh and Italy have between them unleashed a tidal wave of commentary about the drawbacks of being governed by the professional politics.  Consider Charles Moore's column in today's Daily Telegraph:

"Eastleigh brings out something which more and more voters feel. A quarter of a century ago, when people used to complain in pubs that “they’re all the same”, I used to argue back: it seemed to me patently false. Today, I stay quiet. Nigel Farage says that we have three social democrat parties now. There is a bit of truth in that, but I would put it differently. It is not so much that they all think the same thing. It is more that they are all the same sort of people. They all belong to a political elite whose attitudes and careers are pretty different from those of the rest of us."

Even the briefest inspection of David Cameron and Ed Miliband supports this view.  Miliband has been a full-time political apparatchick since University.  Cameron briefly had a job in television, but not a career: the post was acknowledged to be a waiting room for the Commons, even by his employers.

Continue reading "We're governed less by professional politicians than we think" »

19 Jan 2013 20:47:16

The Algerian hostage situation has “effectively ended” — William Hague and David Cameron respond

By Peter Hoskin
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As we heard from Philip Hammond earlier, the hostage situation in Algeria now appears to be over. William Hague has since provided more detail, speaking to the BBC. Here, courtesy of PoliticsHome, is a transcript:

William HagueFive British nationals and one UK resident who are either deceased or unaccounted for: “The priority now is to work out exactly what has happened to every British national who might have been caught up in this terrible situation.

I indicated this afternoon that we thought there were fewer than 10 who were unaccounted for. And on the basis of all the information we have this evening, we believe that there are five British nationals and one UK resident who are either deceased or unaccounted for, in addition to the one fatality that we had already confirmed.

Obviously we’re working hard to get definitive information about each individual. We’re in touch with all of the families concerned, and we’re working closely with BP and with police forces across the country to give those families the support they need at this very difficult time.”

Continue reading "The Algerian hostage situation has “effectively ended” — William Hague and David Cameron respond" »

22 Dec 2012 11:12:39

Conservatives dominate the top 20 most mentioned politicians of 2012

By Matthew Barrett
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The annual newspaper index report by Hanover Communications into media coverage of MPs shows that 12 of the top 20 most-mentioned politicians are Conservatives. The index, which measures newspaper coverage over the last year, shows few Labour frontbenchers have media profiles, with only Ed Balls and Ed Miliband featuring in the list.

I list below the top twenty politicians and the number of mentions they received:

  • David Cameron - 18384
  • George Osborne - 9531
  • Ed Miliband - 6211
  • Nick Clegg - 6155
  • Boris Johnson - 3320
  • Michael Gove - 2844
  • Tony Blair - 2694
  • Gordon Brown - 2387
  • Ed Balls - 2201
  • Vincent Cable - 2061
  • Theresa May - 1743
  • Andrew Lansley - 1621
  • William Hague - 1580
  • Jeremy Hunt - 1525
  • John Major - 960
  • Ken Livingstone - 861
  • Andrew Mitchell - 858
  • Nadine Dorries - 857
  • Iain Duncan Smith - 857
  • Ed Davey - 823

Continue reading "Conservatives dominate the top 20 most mentioned politicians of 2012" »

7 Nov 2012 11:33:34

Conservative MPs (including David Cameron) respond to Barack Obama's election victory

By Peter Hoskin
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Here's David Cameron's statement:

“I would like to congratulate Barack Obama on his re-election.

I have really enjoyed working with him over the last few years and I look forward to working with him again over the next four years.

There are so many things that we need to do: we need to kick start the world economy and I want to see an EU-US trade deal.

Right here in Jordan I am hearing appalling stories about what has happened inside Syria so one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis.

Above all, congratulations to Barack. I’ve enjoyed working with him, I think he’s a very successful US president and I look forward to working with him in the future.

Continue reading "Conservative MPs (including David Cameron) respond to Barack Obama's election victory" »

26 Oct 2012 06:22:26

Who are Conservative Friends of Israel? A profile of the Conservative Party's most populous grouping

By Matthew Barrett
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Conservative Friends of IsraelConservative Friends of Israel is an influential affiliate group of the Conservative Party which contains perhaps the largest number of Conservative MPs of any group in Parliament. It exists to promote understanding of and support for the State of Israel in the Conservative Party, and its membership reaches the highest echelons of power, including the Foreign Secretary, William Hague. In this profile, I examine its origins, membership, role, and activities.

Origins of the group

Conservative Friends of Israel (CFoI) is the oldest group of Conservative MPs I have profiled so far: it was founded by Michael Fidler, who was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bury and Radcliffe between 1970 and the October 1974 election. After losing his seat, he decided to focus on building a pro-Israel group within the Conservative Party - there had been a Labour Friends of Israel group since 1957 - so Fidler launched CFoI in 1974, and served as its National Director. 

Sir Hugh Fraser served as the first Chairman of CFoI, from 1974. Sir Hugh was a Conservative MP of the old school: after a distinguished military intelligence career in the Second World War, he entered Parliament in 1945, and he missed out on being Father of the House to James Callaghan in 1983 by only a few days. Sir Hugh had an interest in oil and the Middle East and served a number of positions in the War and Colonial Offices, before entering Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Air in 1962. He might be best known to some readers as the outsider candidate who came third in the 1975 party leadership contest, behind Mrs Thatcher and Edward Heath, gaining only 16 votes.

Continue reading "Who are Conservative Friends of Israel? A profile of the Conservative Party's most populous grouping" »

5 Sep 2012 20:21:19

Full post-reshuffle list of Ministers

By Matthew Barrett
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Following on from the last few days' rolling blogs, I have below a final list of the MPs (and Baroness Warsi) appointed as Ministers for each department. I have put new appointments in bold.

Cabinet Office

  • Minister for the Cabinet Office, Paymaster General – Rt Hon Francis Maude MP
  • Minister for Government Policy – Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP
  • Minister of State – Rt Hon David Laws MP (jointly with the Department for Education)
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Nick Hurd MP
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Chloe Smith MP

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

  • Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills; and President of the Board of Trade – Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP
  • Minister of State (Universities and Science) – Rt Hon David Willetts MP
  • Minister of State – Michael Fallon MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Jo Swinson MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Matthew Hancock MP (jointly
  • with the Department for Education)

Department for Communities and Local Government

  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
  • Senior Minister of State (Faith and Communities) – Rt Hon Baroness Warsi (jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
  • Minister of State (Housing) – Mark Prisk MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Planning) - Nicholas Boles MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Rt Hon Don Foster MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Brandon Lewis MP

Continue reading "Full post-reshuffle list of Ministers" »

28 May 2012 06:23:29

What is the Fresh Start Project? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to forge a new UK-EU relationship

By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has usually featured groups with general ideological goals. Groups representing the traditional right or Thatcherite wing of the Party cannot be said to focus on a single area of political life. Nor can newer groups like the Free Enterprise Group, or the 2020 Conservatives. However, Fresh Start, the subject of this profile, is focused on one big area of politics: Europe.

Origins of Fresh Start

Fresh Start was formed before the summer recess in 2011, and formally launched in September last year, at an event to which all Conservative MPs were invited. Anthony Browne, in his ConservativeHome column, reported on the launch of Fresh Start at the time:

"By one count there were 104 Conservative MPs; another put it at 120 – twice the total number of Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons. Either way, it was standing room only in the Thatcher Room in Portcullis House last night, as much of the parliamentary Conservative party (and the odd hanger-on like me) met to discuss Britain’s way forward with the European Union."


The founders are Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris, and George Eustice, all 2010 intake members:

  • Leadsom, the Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire, had a career in the City prior to entering politics, having been Financial Institutions Director at Barclays Bank, Managing Director of a London hedge fund and then, Head of Corporate Governance for Invesco Perpetual. Leadsom runs Fresh Start and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for European Reform (see below) from her office, and has regular co-ordinating messages with Heaton-Harris and Eustice.
  • Heaton-Harris, from Daventry, which neighbours Leadsom's constituency, was a Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands region from 1999 until 2009. He was an advocate of reform and helped found the Campaign for Parliamentary Reform (CPR). Heaton-Harris also helped publicise the case of Marta Andreasen, now a UKIP MEP, who, as the European Commission's Chief Accountant, complained about fraud and waste in the European institutions in 2002. 
  • Eustice is the Member of Parliament for Camborne and Redruth, and was a UKIP candidate for the South West of England region at the 1999 European Parliament elections. He has also been Campaign Director for the cross-party campaign against the €uro in 2000, Head of Press for Michael Howard during the 2005 election, and Press Secretary for David Cameron from when Cameron launched his leadership campaign until he was well established as leader, at the end of 2008. Eustice also played a key role in the Conservative effort to win a "no" vote in the AV referendum.

Continue reading "What is the Fresh Start Project? Matthew Barrett profiles the Tory MPs trying to forge a new UK-EU relationship" »

7 Feb 2012 07:25:01

William Hague condemns Russia and China's UN resolution veto for betraying the Syrian people

By Matthew Barrett
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Hague Syria statement

In the Commons yesterday, Foreign Secretary William Hague gave a statement on Syria, strongly condemning the decision made over the weekend by Russia and China to veto a rather moderate (perhaps inadequate) UN resolution calling for the Syrian government to allow peaceful protests, and begin a new political process.

Mr Hague began:

"Over the last 11 months, more than 6,000 people have been killed. The Syrian regime has deployed snipers, tanks, artillery and mortars against civilian protestors and population centres, particularly in the cities of Homs, Idlib, Hama and Deraa. Thousands of Syrians have endured imprisonment, torture and sexual violence, including instances of the alleged rape of children, and the humanitarian position is deteriorating. It is an utterly unacceptable situation that demands a united international response."

Mr Hague pointed out that the UN resolution could not have been used for military intervention, and should not have been objected to by people wanting a peaceful solution:

"There was nothing in this draft resolution that could not be supported by any country seeking a peaceful end to the tragedy unfolding in Syria. It demanded an end to all violence, called for a Syrian-led political process to allow the Syrians to determine their future, and set out a path to a national unity Government and internationally supervised elections. It did not call for military intervention, and could not have been used to authorise any such action under any circumstances. It did not impose sanctions. It proposed putting the weight and authority of the United Nations Security Council behind a plan to achieve a lasting and sustainable peace in Syria."

Continue reading "William Hague condemns Russia and China's UN resolution veto for betraying the Syrian people" »

18 Jan 2012 08:17:59

If the Prime Minister were to fall in a national emergency, who would succeed him? Peter Bone MP must have an answer!

By Matthew Barrett
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Bone PeterIn December, Peter Bone MP asked Nick Clegg who would succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister should Mr Cameron be assassinated. Mr Clegg replied:

"I have to to say that your morbid fascination with the premature death of your own party leader is not really a subject for me, it is a subject for the chief whip."

Mr Bone had previously asked a similar question of Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary. 

Hague william palestine stmentYesterday in the Commons, Mr Bone posed the same constitutional question to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary. The exchange is recorded as follows:

"Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): What his role would be in a national emergency.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): I would support the Prime Minister and the Government in their response, particularly in an international dimension.

Mr Bone: The Foreign Secretary might have a problem with that. Is it true that under Government contingency plans if the Prime Minister were killed in a terrorist attack it would be the Foreign Secretary who took charge of the Government until the Queen could choose a new Prime Minister?

Mr Hague: I can assure my hon. Friend that continuity of government plans are in place to deal with any catastrophic destabilising incident. I know that he has asked the same question of my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary, and the answer is the same: we do not consider it appropriate to talk about these plans in public, but I can assure him that arrangements are in place for any such contingency. I cannot guarantee that there will be a place in the bunker for Mrs Bone, I am afraid."

The full session can be read in Hansard here.

12 Nov 2011 12:00:33

European Conservatives and Reformists are in good heart

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2011-11-12 at 10.05.49I wrote yesterday evening about William Hague's apocalyptic warning at the conference of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) that "The jobs and the life savings of tens of millions of people in Europe may be at stake."

And promised in doing so to write an account of the rest of the conference, which I will divide into a brief mix of reporting and comment.  It took place in London and those present were welcomed by Jan Zahradil, the AECR's President.  Zahradil is a member of the Czech Civic Democratic Party (CDS).

  • Sayeeda Warsi opened the conference, the Foreign Secretary's speech followed hers, and David Lidington spoke later during the afternoon.

Continue reading "European Conservatives and Reformists are in good heart" »

9 Nov 2011 13:57:25

William Hague tells the House Britain will abstain on UN Palestinian statehood vote

By Matthew Barrett
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Hague william palestine stment

In a statement to the House on North Africa and the Middle East this afternoon, William Hague announced the government's intention to abstain on the United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood. The Foreign Secretary said:

"Mr Speaker, the events in the Arab Spring and mounting concern over Iran's nuclear programme do not detract from the urgent need to make progress on the Middle East peace process. I repeat our calls for negotiations on a two-state solution without delay and without pre-conditions, based on the timetable set out in the Quartet statement of the 23rd of September. ... The UK judges that the Palestinian Authority largely fulfils criteria for UN membership, including statehood as far as the reality of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories allows, but its ability to function effectively as a State would be impeded by that situation. A negotiated end to the occupation is the best way to allow Palestinian aspirations to be met in reality and on the ground. ... We will not vote against the application because of the progress the Palestinian leadership has made towards meeting the criteria. But nor can we vote for it while our primary objective remains a return to negotiations through the Quartet process and the success of those negotiations. For these reasons in common with France and in consultation with our European partners, the United Kingdom will abstain on any vote on full Palestinian membership of the UN."

Continue reading "William Hague tells the House Britain will abstain on UN Palestinian statehood vote" »

16 Sep 2011 16:01:22

Alistair Burt refuses to be drawn on whether the Government would support a Palestinian statehood bid

By Joseph Willits 
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Burt In an over-subscribed Urgent Question debate in the Commons yesterday, on the Palestinian statehood bid, foreign office minister Alistair Burt (standing in for Hague who was in Libya) refused to be drawn on whether the government would officially support a Palestinian bid for UN membership.

On Tuesday, ConservativeHome reported that only 2 Tory MPs, Nicholas Soames and Sir Peter Bottomley had signed an Early Day Motion in favour of a Palestinian state.  Upon writing this, the number had increased to four Tory MPs, with Julian Brazier and Eleanor Laing adding their signatures.

The hesitancy with which Tory MPs are having putting their name to the EDM, bears resemblance to the government's caution, because of fears that the bid could ruin the peace process.  Alistair Burt stated that it would be "premature to speculate on what the Government’s response might be" before any proposal for membership had been published.  Burt also stressed it was "vital that any action in the UN does nothing to endanger the prospect of talks".

Following on from the Arab Spring "the world can no longer claim that change in the Middle East will come slowly and incrementally, or allow the middle east peace process to limp along indefinitely, as it has done", said Burt. Any resolution made between the Israelis and Palestinians, he said, is seemingly "more significant" in relation to events of the Arab Spring.

Continue reading "Alistair Burt refuses to be drawn on whether the Government would support a Palestinian statehood bid" »

8 Sep 2011 10:51:02

Osborne, Hague and Pickles voted against Dorries/Field amendment

By Paul Goodman
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Here is the list of those who went into the No lobby to oppose the Dorries/Field amendment.  It included such senior Conservatives as George Osborne, Ken Clarke, Cheryl Gillan, William Hague, Eric Pickles, David Willetts, Sir George Young.


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Danny

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Continue reading "Osborne, Hague and Pickles voted against Dorries/Field amendment" »

21 May 2011 06:24:07

Conservative MPs insist Hamas must respect the State of Israel's right to exist, and accept Quartet Principles

By Matthew Barrett

On Monday, William Hague opened a debate about the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Questions about Libya, UN and NATO involvement came up initally, but events in Israel and Palestine - especially the new agreement between Hamas and Fatah - were also raised, with Conservative members firmly advocating that Hamas should accept Israel's right to exist. 

ARBUTHNOT JamesThe Member for North East Hampshire, James Arbuthnot, who is also the Parliamentary Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, made a particularly strong speech about Israel-Palestine.

Israel is not the cause of the Middle East's problems: "When Osama Bin Laden was killed a few weeks ago, an important article by Robert Fisk appeared in The Independent, in which he made the point that al-Qaeda’s irrelevance has been shown by the fact that the Arab spring was demanding not more Islamic fundamentalism, but freedoms. It is just as important to note that the Arab spring has not been demanding a change in Palestine, essential though that change is; the Arab spring has been demanding the sort of freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the rule of law—that are provided and embodied in Israel. My main initial point about Israel is that it is not the middle eastern problem; the autocratic regimes that have been surrounding Israel are the problem."

The Hamas-Fatah agreement could mean larger Hamas influence: "If the new Hamas-Fatah organisation follows the Fatah line I will be utterly delighted. That would mean that we could negotiate with Hamas again and that Israel would have a useful negotiating partner, because all these things must be achieved by negotiation and cannot be achieved by force or unilateralism. If, however, the new united organisation follows the Hamas line, the reconciliation will be either meaningless or significantly worse. This is not a various shades of grey issue, but a black and white one."

Hamas must renounce violence: "At a time when the Arab spring is showing that the Arab people are desperate for freedoms, now is not the time for the United Kingdom or the international community to abandon the Quartet’s principles. They must demand that Hamas should renounce violence, recognise the state of Israel and honour the previous agreements."

BOLES-COLOUR Nick Boles (Grantham and Stamford) stated that Israelis must be sure of their future security: "The vast majority of Israeli people also think that a two-state solution is the long-term source of their security, but they will grasp it only if there are guarantees that that state will not threaten the long-term security of Israel. It is not unreasonable to ask for that when only five years ago Israel withdrew from Gaza and Gaza immediately fell into the hands of an organisation that is directly sponsored by Iran and wants to wipe Israel from the map. It is not unreasonable when Lebanon’s Government have been brought down and the new Prime Minister has been put in place by an organisation whose leader only yesterday said that we need to drive Israel into the sea, and that no treaties, no borders, no agreements will stop that happening. It is not unreasonable for the Israeli people to have that expectation."

JACKSON STEWART Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) talked about the severe threat of Iran's nuclear ambitions: "Iran is a state that espouses a jihadist, anti-Semitic, militant theology. It is a leading sponsor of state terrorism across the middle east. Furthermore, it wishes to challenge the United States and undermine the historic undertaking of the Baghdad pact of the 1950s, through which the United States sought to support moderate Arab states. There is no doubt that the Iranian regime not only sees itself as the pre-eminent regional power seeking hegemony in the middle east, but is developing a supra-conventional nuclear missile capacity to consolidate that hegemony and become a rival to the United States in global terms. Iran is close to weaponised nuclear capability, and to being able to move, via a breakout position, from the conversion of low-enriched uranium to high-enriched uranium at the minimum 90% level. Once the regime has achieved that, weaponisation can be achieved relatively simply... A nuclear Iran would destroy the policy objective of global non-proliferation and semi-permanently destabilise the middle east, with countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and smaller Arab states seeking nuclear parity. That argument is enunciated in a report entitled “Global Trends 2025” by the National Intelligence Council. The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran presents a clear and present danger to Israel and to regional stability, and it is too great a risk. The European Union, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency must rise to the challenge of preventing that prospect from coming to fruition."

Read the whole debate in Hansard.