Tom Richmond: Bring back William Hague to help Theresa May in her hour of Brexit need

Could - and should - Lord Hague help Theresa May over Brexit?
Could - and should - Lord Hague help Theresa May over Brexit?
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WILLIAM Hague will probably not thank me for writing this – but he should be persuaded to come out of political retirement and help Theresa May get Brexit over the line.

It won’t be the first time that this has happened. David Cameron coaxed the Yorkshireman back onto the front bench in 2005 to give some gravitas to a lightweight Tory opposition.

The then-Richmond MP ultimately went on to serve as Foreign Secretary – and Leader of the Commons – before retiring at the 2015 election to spend time on his writing career.

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However he appears to be one of the few genuine statesmen of stature who might, because of his political intellect, intuition and instinct, be able to assist the Prime Minister in her current predicament.

His experience would certainly be more beneficial – and helpful – than the counsel that the discredited Mr Cameron, the leader who triggered a Brexit vote without thinking through the political consequences, is said to be offering his successor in her hour of need.

Now Lord Hague, he became an accomplished diplomat and treated his opponents with respect, as exemplified by the tone of his thoughtful discussions, in public and private, with his Labour counterpart David Miliband. What a contrast to Boris Johnson’s subsequent bumptiousness.

He understands the Tory party. Too inexperienced when he became leader in 1997, he is a Euro pragmatist – as opposed to a staunch Remainer or Leaver – who knows how Downing Street should work. He will know how policies will play out in public, a trait which cannot be said of the civil servant Olly Robbins who is Mrs May’s current negotiator. A pre-eminent Parliamentarian, he would not have advised putting the Withdrawal Agreement to MPs – and then pulling the vote.

And, as well as being a consummate communicator with the wit and wisdom to match, Lord Hague’s interventions on Brexit have shown great loyalty towards Mrs May – presumably because he is one of the few people with some inkling of what she is going through.

As he said himself when discussing the consequences of Mrs May’s plan being defeated: “I don’t know what will follow a decisive rejection of the deal.

“It could be a constitutional shambles, a second referendum shambles, a no-deal exit shambles or a Corbyn government shambles. I just know that it will be an abysmal shambles whatever would happen next.”

Given this, I believe that William Hague could be persuaded to rise to the challenge and follow the example of Labour’s Peter Mandelson who was also a member of the House of Lords when he answered Gordon Brown’s SOS call in 2009.

But the downside is that Mrs May, and her inadequate inner circle, have such a bunker mentality that won’t summon the one Tory statesman of recent times who might be able to save the Government – and the country.

COULD Theresa May’s problems be traced back to Sir Michael Fallon’s resignation as Defence Secretary over inappropriate conduct towards women?

Chief whip Gavin Williamson, who was born in Scarborough, is said to have put three names to the PM – Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and himself.

Given Mr Williamson is proud that he did not lose a Commons vote when in charge of party discipline, I wonder if Mrs May regrets her choice as Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith, the current Chief Whip, has lost all control.

TRADE Minister Graham Stuart, the MP for Beverley and Holderness, appears to be overlooking the fact that Britain is due to leave the EU in March.

He is pressing for a fresh application to be made to the European Regional Development Fund for money for new sea defences for Withernsea.

“We are allowed to do so as the money for this fund was allocated years ago,” he says by way of explanation.

Fine – but how much money will the Government make available for coastal defences in the future if it is not submerged by Brexit?

IT is not often that Theresa May sides with the reds – but she did when Manchester United sacked the instantly dislikable serial whinger Jose Mourinho. Brexit was no longer headline news.

Yet Mourinho’s demise offers a lesson in succession planning that the Tories do need to heed. Following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, his club is now on its fifth permanent or interim manager in as many years.

TALKING of football and Brexit, the BBC continue to indulge Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker’s political and pro-Remain tweets because their highest-paid presenter – with a salary of around £1.75m – is employed as a freelancer. I wonder if the Corporation would be so indulgent and lenient if he was posting in support of Brexit. I suspect not.

OF 17 Tory MPs from Yorkshire, only three were present for the Parliamentary debate on train services. They were Rail Minister Andrew Jones who represents Harrogate, Thirsk and Malton’s Kevin Hollinrake who pressed for a fares freeze and Richmond’s Rishi Sunak who turned up at the very end and did not speak (he was, in fact, participating in a subsequent debate on second homes).

Of the no-shows, it will be assumed that they are satisfied with services in their constituencies unless they say otherwise.

THE chaos on the region’s trains was best summed up by Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker who said: “Instead of the 12 days of Christmas, we have the 12,000-plus delays of Christmas.”

It says it all. Happy Christmas.

tom.richmond@jpimedia.co.uk