Ex-Tory leader backs Sunak as ‘best hope’ for Brexiteers in Conservative leadership race

Tory leadership candidates 'will attack Sunak' says Falvey

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William Hague, who led the Conservative Party from 1997 to 2001, revealed he is backing Rishi Sunak in the ongoing Tory leadership race. Mr Hague served as the MP for Richmond from 1989 to 2015 and was replaced by Mr Sunak in the Brexit-backing Yorkshire constituency as the former Foreign Secretary was elevated to the House of Lords.

Writing in the Times, Mr Hague explained why he is supporting Mr Sunak and even claimed Eurosceptics should rally behind the ex-Chancellor.

Lord Hague said: “For hard-line Brexiteers, he is their best hope of the intellectual grasp and political drive to create those Brexit freedoms the country was promised.”

Mr Sunak has the backing of several senior Brexiteers, including ex-International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.

The former Chancellor, who campaigned for Brexit in 2016, also stressed his Eurosceptic credentials.

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In a piece in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Sunak promised to light a bonfire of EU laws “getting in the way” of British businesses and vowed to trigger “a new Big Bang”.

He also claimed he would create a new Brexit Delivery Department to review all 2,400 EU laws transferred over to the UK statute book following Britain’s departure from the Brussels bloc.

Brexit has returned as a significant issue in the Tory leadership race, despite Conservative MPs standing on a manifesto to ‘Get Brexit Done’ in 2019.

Despite vowing to make the most of Brexit, members of the European Research Group have suggested the ex-Chancellor is a ‘Brexiteer in name only’.

However, Lord Hague’s support for Mr Sunak was based on much more than Brexit.

Lord Hague, who campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “I have campaigned with literally thousands of candidates. I have mentored dozens.

“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.

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“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.”

Mr Sunak retained his pole position in the Tory leadership election yesterday after he received the backing of 115 MPs.

Fellow Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt trailed in second with 82 MPs supporting the Trade Minister.

Remainer-turned-Brexiteer Liz Truss and ex-Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch also saw off the threat from Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat to reach the next round of the leadership race.

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