Labour MPs pay unlikely tributes to Tory Hague

Image copyright PA
Image caption A teenage William Hague with his hero Margaret Thatcher

With only a few days before MPs are released into the community - one uses the term "paroled" - some are decidedly demob-happy.

William Hague has embarked on a week of farewell appearances at the despatch box, giving friend and foe alike the chance to pay tribute to his 26-year parliamentary career.

Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant shared his memories in the Commons this morning, as recorded in Hansard: "I first met the Leader of the House when I was 18 and I went to his 21st birthday party, which I remember was subtitled "wine, women and song", so it is with mixed emotions that I congratulate him on leaving the House.

"We will miss him, but we are all looking forward to some wonderful new books, as he is a very fine writer."

William Hague: "I am grateful to the honourable gentleman, whom I have known since he was 18, when he was a Conservative... I hate to break the news to the opposition, but he was a member of the Oxford University Conservative association, albeit in favour of PR..."

Chris Bryant: "You were in favour of PR."

Mr Hague: "No, the hon. Gentleman was in favour of PR, which made him rather a suspicious character in the eyes of the rest of us."

Mr Speaker: "Plus ├ža change."

Another tribute followed from an equally unlikely source - Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn:

"The Leader of the House will be remembered in Wales as one of the most agreeable alien governor-generals we have had, in a period when he had the great good fortune to meet the wonderful Welsh woman who was to become his wife."

Mr Hague: "I am grateful for the nearest thing to a ringing endorsement from the hon. Gentleman. I have fond memories of being Welsh Secretary. The prime minister who appointed me to that role, Sir John Major, asked me to take Wales to my heart. When, a year later, I married my private secretary, he said, "I think you are taking this a little bit too literally now." Of course I have been deeply fond of Wales ever since."