Coffee House

William Hague is charming, but what he says won’t satisfy the Eurosceptics

29 September 2013

5:53 PM

29 September 2013

5:53 PM

William Hague has to be one of the most charming men in the Cabinet. Today, rather than attacking his Lib Dem colleagues for being ‘woolly’, as Philip Hammond did, the Foreign Secretary made the case for a majority Conservative government by saying quite politely, at the end of a long list of British foreign policy achievements, ‘And all that in a Coalition: just think what we could accomplish on our own’. Delegates loved that.

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But there was one interesting point in his speech that delegates may in time love a little less as its implications become clearer. It was in the section on European reform. Hague told delegates:

‘When David Cameron set out his vision for real change in Europe he warned that he’d be denounced as a heretic. But I can tell you that Europe needs heresy and his heresy is spreading.

‘People used to think there was only one destination – a federal Europe – and the only question was whether you got there in the fast lane or slow lane. They don’t think that any more.Governments across Europe are talking about power coming back to the countries of Europe. That is something new.’

He followed that with a list of the things that Britain has already achieved in Europe: the EU budget, not budging on the rebate or on bailouts, and the referendum lock. But there was no mention of renegotiating Britain’s relationship with Europe, save the two-speed system under which certain countries could opt out of ‘ever-closer union’. Hague had focused on reforming Europe as a whole: something that is important, too, but it is very different to securing a specific, special settlement for Britain. The chances of securing the kind of reform in Europe that many in the Conservative party long for are slim: they want a renegotiation that removes Britain from many of the policies and institutions that they believe constrict this country. Instead, Hague seemed to be talking about reforms that many governments in Europe would support. These might be welcome, but they won’t be enough to satisfy Eurosceptics in the Tory party.

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Show comments
  • James B

    test

  • William Sampson

    We all know, what ever is renegotiated, the UK will vote to leave.

  • PaderB

    All of this claptrap from a man who campaigned whilst Party Leader to leave the EU. Being Foreign Secretary has gone to his head completely. He is now just another establishment figure more concerned with keeping the trappings of power whilst subjugating any principles he might have once had.

    What ever happened to that bright, principled, Young Conservative at the Tory Conference so many years ago?

    • Denis_Cooper

      Hague never campaigned to leave the EU.

      • PaderB

        Oh yes he did. He in fact resigned as Leader, citing the fact that he had entered and lost a General Election on a single issue of leaving the EU.

        • Denis_Cooper

          Never; his slogan was that we should be “in Europe, not run by Europe”, which meant staying in the EU but somehow not being run by it, a ludicrous idea as pointed by UKIP. He was opposed to joining the euro, at least for the time being, but he never said we should leave the EU.

          • Fred Smith

            It was a way through the fact that the Tories were split over the EU.

            It was a compromise to satisfy both sides, while drifting further towards EU integration. The problem is that while sounding pretty good and completely reasonable, it is in fact nonsense on stilts. I’m sure he knew it was attractive sounding moonshine and it was his intent to deceive.

            Hague is a very slippery customer.

  • Lady Magdalene

    All Cameron and Hague are seeking to do is get the Mandate to keep us IN the EU which The British Establishment/Bilderberg Committee currently lacks.
    Once again the phrase “democratic consent for membership of the EU is wafer thin” was used to explain their objective.
    There will be no FREE AND FAIR REFERENDUM. The stakes are too high for them.
    All they want is the Mandate they should have got when they knifed Mrs Thatcher to get the Maastrict Treaty through – and we will be trapped in the EU and NEVER asked again.
    Vote UKIP.

  • Maidmarrion

    You are writing about William No Boots on the Ground Hague are you?
    The one along with his pal Cameron destroyed Libya at the behest of the USA? – That one?

  • Fred Smith

    I don’t know about charming. William Hague has the same effect on me as Peter Hain. As soon as I hear his voice I know I’m going to be listening to a lot of disingenuous cobblers.

  • Veritas

    Hague is one of the most loathsome creeps in the Cabinet. The way he has left Christian communities to be violently eliminated in the Middle East is beyond shameful.

    • perdix

      I fail to see how much Hague could actually do to directly help Christians in Syria. But he may be doing things we don’t know about.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Oh I don’t know… he might quit aiding the islamofascists who are murdering the Christians there, for starters.

      • Andy

        What about the Christians in Egypt ? Christianity is illegal in Saudi Arabia. Even in Turkey the Orthodox Church is persecuted and its life is increasingly difficult. So it is not just Syria.

  • London Calling

    We don’t need charming….we need to be in charge of our own destiny……………

  • FrankS

    “William Hague has to be one of the most charming men in the Cabinet…”
    Whatever his other qualities may be, I’ve never noticed the charm.
    Or the others, come to that.

  • Tom Tom

    William Hague is an opportunistic fraud. He has played his part since the 1970s and with the help of Norman Blackwell and Archie Norman managed to get McKinsey to hoist him to levels of affluence not merited by his meagre contribution to public life. Hague is what the Russians call a kareerist

  • yarnesfromhorsham

    Its just an idea but as we are more than half way to becoming a Muslim country perhaps we should go the whole hog and see how welcoming the EU would be then.

  • fathomwest

    Who can believe what this little man says? It would be memorable if he was beaten in the General Election. He has become a pompous, arrogant tool of the Foreign Office and the EU. Power has certainly corrupted this once Eurosceptic.

  • voidist

    Hague had made his Money …lets face it, he is only here for the beer…..
    like all beer diggers he has no idea about what a pathetic figure he cuts
    on the internatiional stage when he represents the UK

  • Smithersjones2013

    Oh dear not Dave’s wet Willy. He really is a sad little EUnuch!

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, the minor parties will likely be growing in the next couple years, in the coming raucous environment, even as the former major parties wane. The Greens’ registry may very well surpass the Camerloons’.

  • peterbuss

    Sebastian – but that has always been what DC himself has said.He has always set it in the context of a new deal for the whole of the EU and never just as something which would apply only to the UK. Re read his famous EU speech earlier this year when he talked about a renegotiation. His position (thank goodness) is totally different from UKIP’s and those in the Party who simply just want us to leave, but it chimes with majority opinion in this country according to all the polls.

    • Smithersjones2013

      You really do talk complete rubbish most of the time. In poll after poll the British electorate have clearly indicated they wish a trading arrangement ONLY.

      Now you can try and dress that up any way you want but we all know that the only way to get such a deal will inevitably end up os to withdraw and do as Switzerland and Iceland (coountries with no interest in joining the EU) are doing.

      • peterbuss

        You are just so wrong, an din total denial of the opinion polls taken on voters views , but there’s no point in debating with someone who has a closed mind.

        • HookesLaw

          He is not only wrong but ignorant.
          A ‘trading arrangement’ would mean being part of the single market and abiding by single market rules and free movement of labour, just like Norway who are in the EEA. And it would also mean paying into the EU regional funds.
          Norway is equivalent to the 10th largest contributor to EU funds.
          If we just walked out and then tried to get back into some ‘trading arrangement’ we would probably have to sign into Schengen.

          Thats why for the sake of our economic future we have to be clever in dealing with the EU and not stupid. The EU will need a new treaty to bring in closer fiscal union. We will not be a part of that and will need to and have a golden chance to negotiate new terms with a good hand.
          Personally I would rather have Cameron doing that than Miliband.

          • Smithersjones2013

            Oh for god sake now I get tweedle dum as well. How many times have we been through this. The EEA is a nursery for wannabe EU members. Only an idiot would consider the EEA as a way forward if we were to withdraw. Only an idiot would ‘try to get back in’ if we were to withdraw. Schengen has nothing to do with a trade agreement either and would be the very last thing we would need to worry about in such circumstances. Why on earth would we sign up having withdrawn from the EU. Your just making this up as you go along…..

            Frankly you talk more and more nonsense daily. Are you getting confused in your dotage?

          • Andy

            A better example would be the United States or perhaps Australia. Don’t they trade with the EU ? Are they ‘just like Norway’ ? If the UK did leave the EU I think you might find that the EU would have to change and adapt, perhaps be less of the dictating bully. After all they enjoy a huge trade surplus with the UK, so they might want to keep that. Tariffs can be a two way street.

          • Denis_Cooper

            “The EU will need a new treaty to bring in closer fiscal union. We will not be a part of that and will need to and have a golden chance to negotiate new terms with a good hand.”

            As you must know, because it’s been mentioned often enough, Cameron had just such a “golden chance” in 2010 but made no use of it; instead he just gave Merkel the EU treaty change she wanted, formalised through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011, and he asked for no other treaty changes in return.

            As pointed out by the Tory MP Mark Reckless on October 24th 2011:

            “The Prime Minister tells The Daily Telegraph today that we should use any treaty change to shore up the euro to get powers over employment and social policy back, yet on 25 March, he agreed to precisely such a treaty change, but did not ask for anything in return.”

        • Smithersjones2013

          No I’m not wrong on this and its not a debate the polls are clear. As for closed minds its those who can only see as far as the gravy train in Brussels whose minds are closed…….

      • perdix

        If you are Really interested in British options in Europe (which I doubt) , you should read this report by Open Europe. Things aren’t as simple as you would make out.

        http://www.openeurope.org.uk/Content/Documents/2012EUTrade_new.pdf

        • Smithersjones2013

          I never suggested things were simple. I was talking about the views of the electorate reflected in numerous polls, However thank you for the report because it makes the point very well. This from the first page (7.1) of the recommendations:

          In order to justify continuing commitment to the EU and avoid being driven by the electorate inexorably towards the exit door, Britain needs to carve out a new model for EU cooperation,remaining part of the customs union and Single Market in goods and services but substantially reducing the non-trade EU involvement and costs whenever possible.

          The Norwegian, Swiss and Turkish options do not constitute off-the-peg models that the UK can adopt, but are all products of individual countries’ characteristics illustrating that a ‘UK model’ is achievable, but one that is a product of the UK’s circumstances.

          Now the only question left is how feasible is this ‘new model’ within the EU structure? Given Barroso, Van Rompuy and numerous others have said there will be no unilateral negotiations it would seem that getting such a deal whilst remaining within the EU is impossible (and signs are as expressed elsewhere by your compatriot Mr Buss that Dave isn’t even going to try to negotiate for such a model anyway) so it would seem there is only one way to have a hope of getting such a model as the recommendation warns.

          Isn’t it interesting that the three models that they use as examples of what is achievable all belong to countries that are NOT members of the EU.

    • HookesLaw

      YouGov did a poll a year or so back. When asked how people would vote in a three option referendum however, people preferred renegotiation to withdrawal – 15% would stay, 47% renegotiate, 28% go.
      Thats a big majority for staying in.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Actually, that’s 75% who either want to renegotiate or leave, and only a tiny sliver who want to stay as is.

        And you wonder why you Camerloons are scorned so often? You can’t even look at simple statistical data without lying and misrepresenting it, in plain sight even.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Well, that is not how the Times reports it … not having a subscription I can’t read the whole article today:

      http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3882534.ece

      but I can read as far as:

      “Mr Hague told the conference: “Nation states working together with common rules, yes. But Britain as part of a superstate, never. If some countries want ever closer union then they can go ahead. But …”

      So even if Hague is genuinely seeking a “new deal” it would not necessarily be “for the whole of the EU.”

  • MikeBrighton

    Hague once used to be a “euro sceptic”. No longer. Institutional capture

    • HookesLaw

      Has he ever said he wanted to leave the EU?
      He has opposed the Euro and the Lisbon Treaty but so have most tories.

      • MikeBrighton

        His heart is not in it any more…..

        • HookesLaw

          More invention – you live by it.

          • MikeBrighton

            Your ad hominem attack is just amusing. Hague is a semi detached member oft he government, when he was leader of the Tories he campaigned against the euro but I agree that he has never said he wants to leave the EU but, er, so what?

    • telemachus

      Will Hague is truly one of the stars of the Manchester firmament
      *
      Not for him supporting Gove’s Educational Social Darwinism or Snake Hunts destruction of the free health service
      Now the big news is that he has abandoned the little englandism of the Tory Right, egged on by UKIP loonies and fruitcakes
      He has finally grasped that we have moved on from worship of the Nation State and the rearguard actions of the empire loyalists
      *
      Britain’s historic destiny is at the centre of Europe. Yes it needs changing but changing from within.
      As last weeks German election has shown folks in Germany want compromise. We can sit down initially with Merkel’s coming grand coalition with the SDP and together drive Europe forward to economic and politic al world hegemony

      • Smithersjones2013

        Britain’s historic destiny is at the centre of Europe

        But with the the end of the nation state there will be no Britain and no ‘historic destiny’.just millions upon millions of little unidentifiable EU serfs like yourself…..

        • telemachus

          Your mindset is still little england
          Centuries ago people in Berwick upon Tweed wanted to see their influence spread afar and indeed they are still at war with Russia
          Now the good folk of Berwick are happy to pull together with the rest of the UK to the greater good of all
          *
          We have moved on to a wider interactive information superhighway world and we need to interact positively to the greater good of all the countries of Europe

          • Smithersjones2013

            Show me where I mentioned England at all? When you are spouting your drivel you could at least try and relate it to the comment that was made. My mindset actually is focussed globally and how our nation can interact with the whole globe without the shackles of ‘Little European’ despots getting in the way……

            • Andy

              Ignore the fully paid up member of the Fascist Party. He is, one fears, merely a useless idiot.

          • Colonel Mustard

            And what is your mindset? Impenetrably thick and malevolent I’d hazard since you are only here to provoke and cause mischief.

            • telemachus

              Colonel
              I remain open minded to reasonable argument
              What is at issue here is a headline slurring the Trade Unions and the absolute need for rebuttal

              • Colonel Mustard

                Actually you have one of the most closed minds I have ever encountered.

              • Hexhamgeezer

                Any casual reader might take you on your word but the casual reader here wouldn’t know about your long record of threats and support of murder for those who disagree with you (and also for the children of such people).

                Vile smearing troll sums you up quite nicely

                • telemachus

                  I deny absolutely your slur
                  I am however concerned about some of the postings of you and your colleagues on the vicars site

                • Colonel Mustard

                  No he has you nailed. You should be more concerned about your own postings – and not just some of them.

            • Smithersjones2013

              And what is your mindset?

              I imagine he’s off with the rest of the Teletubbies in the Tubbytronic-superdome

          • Alexsandr

            berwick at war with russia is not true. never was.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berwick-upon-Tweed#Relations_with_Russia

            shows the quality of your fact checking really doesnt it?

            • telemachus

              Who to believe?
              This from a Berwick on Tweed Brochure
              “When Queen Victoria signed the declaration of war on Russia in 1853, she did so in the name of “Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and the British Dominions beyond the sea.” But Berwick was not mentioned in the Treaty of Paris that concluded the Crimean War in 1856, leaving the town technically still at war with Russia. “

      • Colonel Mustard

        telemachus found a wafer
        Which he struck upon a note;
        This he took and gave the cook.
        Then he went and bought a boat
        Which he paddled down the stream
        Shouting, “Ice produces cream,
        Beer when churned produces butter!
        Henceforth all the words I utter
        Distant ages thus shall note.”

        telemachus said it’s safer
        If you’ve lemons in your head
        First to eat a pound of meat
        And then to go at once to bed.

      • MikeBrighton

        Where to begin, where to begin….
        We are a global trading nation currently shackled to a socialist corpse that we need to cut loose. Our historic destiny in most certainly not at the centre of Europe (note to T don’t conflate Europe and the EU they are utterly different things), it never has been and never will be. I just want democracy and fort he first time being given a choice as to whether I want to be subsumed as a state in a federal EU state.

        • HookesLaw

          Germany is not a global trading nation?
          Germany runs a massive trade surplus. It manages to do this by being even more tightly shackled to this ‘socialist corpse’ than we are.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            ‘Cos Germany makes the rules (and ignores those disadvantageous) and historically trades wit Europe more than we. joining the EU severed our trading links – it cemented Germany’s

            • telemachus

              Ah but you cannot turn the clock back
              Our pre EU trading links are gone
              Do not jeopardise our European links

    • A_Libertarian_Rebel

      Spot on. One of the most blatant instances of politically going native inside the EU-phile FCO seen in recent years. Witness the depiction of the irretrievably EU-phile Lidington as “the best Europe Minister we’ve ever had”. Sad to see.

    • Fred Smith

      Hague’s always taken a reform view of the EU. “In Europe not run by Europe”, which is more or less what the publicly stated Tory policy to the EU has been for ages.

      http://www.brugesgroup.com/eu/william-hague-european-policy.htm?xp=paper

      Now given that the EU is a political construct dedicated to ever closer union, and the whole point of being in it is to be ruled by it, you may have trouble in taking this approach seriously. It’s never been explained how it’s going to be achieved within the mechanisms of the EU or what happens when the others say no. The EU shows no inclination to be reformed along the lines Hague hints at, and it hasn’t strayed from it’s original purpose of creating a federal Europe.

      I’ve never seen it as any more than a come-on for those of an anti-EU view to sucker them into supporting a consistently pro-EU Conservative Party.

      “eurosceptic” is in any case a hopelessly vague term covering everything from wanting withdrawal by unilateral declaration, to expressing the view that the EU might be going a bit too far.

      To be honest I don’t think Hague’s view has changed that much over the years, but I’ve always found it rather slippery and hard to pin down.

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