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Lord Hague urges Tories to back ‘highly disciplined, rational’ Sunak for PM

Lord Hague urges Tories to back ‘highly disciplined, rational’ Sunak for PM
The ex-Tory leader told the grassroots Rishi Sunak has his ‘full support’.

Former Conservative leader William Hague has urged party members to back the “highly disciplined” and “rational” Rishi Sunak in an almost six-minute long video message.

As ballot papers for the leadership contest start landing on the doormats of Tory party members, Lord Hague pleaded with the grassroots, arguing the former chancellor is the best choice for prime minister.

In a video message, published by The Telegraph, the ex-Tory leader described how Mr Sunak, who was “new to farming issues”, “not local” and from “an ethnic minority”, ended up replacing him as MP for Richmond in Yorkshire when he did not stand for re-election in 2015.

Reminiscing about the campaign, he said: “I have campaigned with literally thousands of candidates. I have mentored dozens.

Rishi Sunak during a QandA with pupils from the Pickhill Church of England Primary School near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, while on a visit to his Richmond constituency (Ian Lamming/PA)
Rishi Sunak during a QandA with pupils from the Pickhill Church of England Primary School near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, while on a visit to his Richmond constituency (Ian Lamming/PA)

“It was soon apparent that this one was the most assiduous and effective I had ever known.

“If I said he should visit someone in the hills, he would be there the next day for hours, just listening to them.

“He has a hunger to learn, to understand.

“One day, when I suggested he take it easy after a late event, he said he was getting up at 5am to join a farmer milking cows.

“‘You don’t really have to do that’, I assured him. ‘I know’, he said, ‘but I really want to know what it’s like. I’ve got to understand for myself’.”

The video also featured Richmond constituents, with one saying: “He (Rishi Sunak) is an icon up here.”

Lord Hague, who spoke from what appeared to be his study, concluded: “Having grown to admire him through months of touring Yorkshire villages together, I almost don’t wish on him this position, one of the hardest jobs in the world at the worst moment in decades.

“But then I think about the next prime minister, sitting late at night in Downing Street, working out how to help people with energy bills, sort out the Northern Ireland Protocol, maintain the unity of the West.

“The best hope is a highly disciplined, rational individual, one who always does their utmost to understand… such a person is a very rare find in British politics. Members should realise that they have one in their midst. His name is Rishi Sunak. He has my full support.”

Lord Hague led the Conservative Party from 1997 to 2001.

From 2010 to 2014 he served as foreign secretary, and between 2014 and 2015 he was leader of the House of Commons.

He was awarded a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours List.

The video, which featured the official logo of Mr Sunak’s campaign, was shared on Twitter by several of his supporters.

Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab tweeted: “Rishi is an exceptional colleague & MP and the best candidate to become our next Prime Minister.

“Just ask William Hague and the people of Richmond.”

Oliver Dowden, who stepped down as party chairman after the Tories’ double by-election defeat, wrote: “Serious times require serious leadership.

“As Lord Hague says that’s Rishi Sunak.”