current affairs

William Hague resigns amidst cabinet reshuffle

William Hague resigned as Foreign Secretary late Monday and said he would not stand at the next general election, due in May.

William Hague resigned as Foreign Secretary late Monday and said he would not stand at the next general election, due in May. Hague, in remarks through the social networking site Twitter, said he would become the Leader of the House of Commons to complete the remainder of his term, replacing Andrew Lansley, who, according to a report from the BBC, had left the government.

In a statement via Twitter, Prime Minister David Cameron praised Hague’s work as Foreign Secretary.

The departure of Hague, who has served as an MP for Richmond in Yorkshire since his election in 1989, comes as Cameron looks to present the Conservatives to increase appeal to voters ahead of the election.

Cameron is expected later on Tuesday to promote a number of women to positions within the cabinet. It had been assumed by Westminster insiders, according to a report from The Guardian, Hague would remain in his post through the general election.

Sources indicated according to various media reports that Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, is due to take over from Hague. However, that has not officially been confirmed.

Additionally, according to a report from The Daily Telegraph, Education Secretary Michael Gove, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid are said to be considered. Chancellor George Osborne and Home Secretary Theresa May are said to be remaining in their current posts, the BBC report adds.

In a press statement, Labour MP Michael Dugher, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the reshuffle spoke volumes about Cameron’s leadership.

“Four years of failure to promote women and now we have the massacre of the moderates,” Dugher said. “This reshuffle shows how weak David Cameron is, running scared of his own right wing. That’s why he cannot focus on the big challenges facing families up and down the country.”

A grassroots connection

In an email interview with Kettle, Helen Lewis, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, said Hague, politically, had come full circle over the course of his career in the party.

“The astonishing thing about Hague’s departure is that he started his career on the centre right of the Tory party; he’s ended it on the centre left,” Lewis said. “The Conservatives are now much more Eurosceptic than they were when he was leader; his relatively ‘green’ position is increasingly marginal, too.”

Lewis added that the view of Europe had changed as Cameron had previously stated when he began serving as leader of the Conservatives that a referendum on the UK’s membership with the European Union, was not necessary.

The focus Hague now has will be political. In an interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson, Lord Finkelstein, a former adviser to Hague, said Hague had a connection with Conservative grassroots, which Cameron had always needed, leading to political advantages for the party ahead of the election.

“Over the next year, I think the idea is for William Hague to be a big campaigner across the country,” Finkelstein said, adding that there would be benefits for the party, particularly in the north of England.

As for Hague’s successor in the Foreign Office, Lewis says the goal is to find a place for Britain in the world when military power is unwilling to be wielded.

“Cameron has been notably less interventionist than other recent PMs, particularly Blair,” Lewis said. “He accepted the Commons vote on Syria without demur. So the challenge for a new Foreign Secretary is to find a place for Britain in the world when we are unwilling to wield military power.”

What do you think of the departure of William Hague? What will be at stake for the Conservatives going up to the general election? Have your say in the comments section below.

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