William Hague admitted he was embarrassed by MPs lavishing praise upon him during his final session of questions as a Government minister, telling the Commons: “I am beginning to think I have died.”
The outgoing Conservative heavyweight insisted the compliments from his parliamentary colleagues would not persuade him to stay, although MPs suggested Mr Hague could be in line for a peerage to extend his political career.
Mr Hague, MP for Richmond, added that a beer known as Smooth Hague had been created in his honour and recalled tales from his past, with his final Commons comments expected next Thursday in response to a debate allowing farewell speeches from departing MPs.
Speaking during the business statement, shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle insisted Mr Hague was “the only northern powerhouse the Tories have ever had”.
For Tory backbencher David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale), Mr Hague was the “finest prime minister we never had”.
After Conservative Rehman Chishti (Gillingham) became the latest MP to offer praise, the Commons Leader replied: “It’s getting a bit embarrassing.
Earlier in the session, Conservative backbencher Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon) asked Mr Hague for a debate on North Yorkshire - including on its beer.
The former Conservative leader replied: “There would be a great deal to say in a debate about North Yorkshire, I actually understand a beer has been launched in my honour over the last week called Smooth Hague. I have already tasted it.”
Labour’s Chris Bryant (Rhondda) said: “I first met Mr Hague when I was 18 and I went to his 21st birthday party, which I remember was subtitled ‘wine, women and song’.
“So it’s with mixed emotions that I congratulate him on leaving the House. We will miss him here but I hope we’ll all be looking forward to some wonderful new books because he’s a very fine writer and he says he’s going to keep up his campaign against the use of sexual violence in war. But who knows, maybe he will be appearing down the corridor in a few weeks time in another guise.”
Recalling his appointment as Welsh Secretary, Mr Hague said the then prime minister John Major asked him to take Wales to his heart.
He told MPs: “When I, a year later, married my private secretary he said: ‘I think you’re taking this a little bit too literally now’.”