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Hague, William

Hague, William (b. 1961). Politician. Hague's meteoric rise to the leadership of the Conservative Party was assisted by the shattering defeat of 1997, which removed from Parliament a number of potential rivals. President of the Oxford Union (1981), he was returned for Richmond (Yorks.) in 1989. He served as minister for social security 1994–5 and secretary of state for Wales 1995–7. From 1997 his political task was to restore morale and credibility to a battered and divided party. He became a redoubtable Commons performer, quite capable of inflicting bruises on Tony Blair at question time. But despite a very vigorous election campaign in 2001, his party failed to make any progress at the polls and Hague resigned at once from the leadership, though continuing to represent Richmond. Blamed for adopting too right-wing a stance, it is far from certain that any other leader would have done better, and the succession to John Major had all the appearance of a poisoned chalice.

J. A. Cannon

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Hague, William Jefferson

William Jefferson Hague (hāg), 1961–, British politician, leader (1997–2001) of the Conservative party, b. Rotherham, Yorkshire. After graduating from Oxford, he worked briefly in industry, then (1989) won election to Parliament. In 1995, Conservative prime minister John Major named Hague secretary of state for Wales, making him the youngest cabinet member in a half century. After Labour's overwhelming 1997 victory under Tony Blair swept the Conservatives from office, Hague won the party leadership as a centrist. Advocating the distancing England from Europe, he failed to rally popular support for the party in the 1990s. By 2000, however, he had taken advantage of a number of Labour blunders to become a more viable opposition leader, but he failed to lead the Conservatives to victory at the polls in 2001 and resigned his leadership post. In the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government that was formed in 2010, Hague was named foreign secretary; when he stepped down in 2014, he became leader of the House of Commons.

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Hague, William Jefferson

Hague, William Jefferson (1961– ) British politician, leader of the Conservative Party (1997–2001). He entered Parliament in 1989. In 1995, Hague joined John Major's cabinet as secretary of state for Wales. After the Conservatives' landslide defeat in the 1997 general election, he emerged as the youngest Tory leader since William Pitt (the Younger). A strong performer in the House of Commons, his anti-European single currency stance alienated some moderate party members. He resigned as Conservative leader immediately after defeat in the 2001 general election.

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