Hague, William Jefferson
, 1961-, British politician, leader (1997-2001) of the Conservative party
, b. Rotherham, Yorkshire. After graduating from Oxford, he worked briefly in industry, then (1989) won election to Parliament. In 1995, Conservative prime minister John Major
named Hague secretary of state for Wales, making him the youngest cabinet member in a half century. After Labour's overwhelming 1997 victory under Tony Blair
swept the Conservatives from office, Hague won the party leadership as a centrist. Advocating the distancing England from Europe, he failed to rally popular support for the party in the 1990s. By 2000, however, he had taken advantage of a number of Labour blunders to become a more viable opposition leader, but he failed to lead the Conservatives to victory at the polls in 2001 and resigned his leadership post.
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