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(1) William Hague is Basil Fawlty

ASERIES William Hague's greatest moment was his campaign to save the pound. He compared the ERM to a burning building with exits and EMU to a burning building without exits. His argument - lonely at the time - that we needed to see the euro work in good times and bad has been 100% vindicated.

Many reporters seem to believe that William Hague is some sort of head-banging, swivel-eyed Eurosceptic (the same silly language is always used) who will now be restrained from Basil Fawlty-style insults to our European allies by the LibCon deal.

In reality William Hague has been a much more pragmatic figure for a good five years. He was cautious about Tory MEPs leaving the EPP in shadow cabinet, has relaxed traditional Conservative support for Israel and opposed the surge of troops led by General Petraeus in Iraq.

Foreign policy – including European policy – will be remarkable for its similarity to what went before. The continuity of European policy will be reinforced by the Coalition deal but that much was also obvious last autumn when Hague and Cameron ‘long-grassed’ the European issue when they announced no post- Lisbon referendum.

The replacement of Mark Francois with David Lidington as Europe spokesman confirms this. Lidington – a long-term Hague aide - is no Europhile but he’s a pragmatist. He’ll put a premium on good relations with European counterparts.

Tim Montgomerie


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