In a blunt message to the country’s bosses, the Richmond MP said they should stop complaining and get on with the business of wealth creation.
His comments, in an interview with a Sunday newspaper, are a direct riposte to business leaders who criticised the lack of measures for economic growth in the Queen’s Speech.
“There’s only one growth strategy: work hard,” Mr Hague said. “I think they should be getting on with the task of creating more of those jobs and more of those exports, rather than complaining about it.”
Asked if his comments could be compared to Lord Tebbit’s “on your bike” message to the unemployed in the 1980s, Mr Hague said: “It’s more than that. It’s ‘Get on the plane, go and sell things overseas, go and study overseas’.
“It’s much more than getting on the bike, the bike didn’t go that far.”
The newspaper said that Mr Hague, as a former comprehensive schoolboy from Yorkshire whose parents manufactured soft drinks, was seen as the best person to deliver the tough message, rather than David Cameron or George Osborne, who have been criticised for their privileged backgrounds.
Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Michael Dugher said Ministers should stop blaming other people for their mistakes.
“The Conservatives said after the local elections that they had got the message,” he said.
“Instead, these out-of-touch government Ministers are burying their heads in the sand and just want to blame everybody else for the fact their economic plan has failed. The truth is it’s Ministers who need to ‘work harder’ – at getting an economy that promotes growth and creates jobs.”