WILLIAM Hague is “our greatest living Yorkshireman”, David Cameron said, as he paid tribute to the outgoing former Tory leader.
The Prime Minister impersonated Mr Hague’s renowned Yorkshire accent and recalled how a boy who had a record collection consisting of one Dire Straits album and dozens of Winston Churchill speeches rose through the ranks in politics.
Speaking to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Mr Cameron told delegates: “When it comes to keeping Britain safe, one man has been by my side for the last four years. We all remember those lyrical tones in a hall like this all those years ago.”
The PM, mimicking Mr Hague, said: “Some of you won’t be here in 30 years time.”
After laughter and applause, Mr Cameron said: “All right, I won’t give up the day job. Now, when he was a teenager he didn’t only address the Tory Party conference, he read Hansard in bed and he had a record collection that apparently consisted of one album by Dire Straits and dozens of speeches by Winston Churchill.
“His dad said: ‘He was just a normal happy boy’.
“All I can say is this: that boy became an amazing parliamentarian, a brilliant foreign secretary, our greatest living Yorkshireman and someone to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude - William Hague.”
Mr Hague himself said he had “no regrets” at ending his frontline political career without becoming prime minister.
The Commons Leader and Richmond MP is leaving the Commons at the general election - 37 years after first wowing the Conservative Party conference as a 16-year-old activist.
As party leader he failed to oust Tony Blair’s administration in 2001 and left the front bench, only returning after David Cameron took the reins and going on to serve as foreign secretary until this summer’s reshuffle.
“Absolutely not,” he told reporters when asked if he would feel a twinge of regret when he watched Mr Cameron deliver his speech.
“I served as foreign secretary for four years - that’s what I really wanted to do after I stood down as leader of the party - in what I believe will go down in history as a successful Government in turning around this country.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction in that and a lot of good people on the way up.
“No regrets for me. I am not the sort of person who has regrets or looks over my shoulder and I will be cheering David Cameron on.”
The former Foreign Secretary won praise from across the party during the conference.
A former ministerial colleague even went as far as to say he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
Alistair Burt said he could not think of anyone on the planet more deserving of the honour at present.
Mr Hague made attempts to end war zone sexual violence a top priority of his time as foreign secretary - working around the globe side-by-side with actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie to raise awareness and secure international agreement.
The campaign culminated in a summit in London this summer, shortly before Mr Hague left his role in the reshuffle to become Commons leader.
“If anyone deserves the Nobel Peace Prize this year it’s William Hague,” Mr Burt told a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.”