Cameron: Hague is my deputy

By staff

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague is the de-facto deputy leader of the Conservative party, David Cameron has confirmed.

The Tory leader said Mr Hague was “my deputy in all but name”.

Mr Hague has become an exceptionally popular figure in the party, despite an unimpressive stint as leader when Tony Blair took office.

During last year’s party conference, he was the centre of attention, with delegates going out of their way to have the chance to meet him.

In an interview with the Sun, Mr Cameron said: “William is effectively my deputy in all but name and people need to know that. I have been in this job for three years. William did it for four. He has seen the pitfalls and is a very wise counsel.

“It’s a good relationship. It has worked extremely strongly.

“He is the senior member of my team. He chairs the meetings when I’m not there. He stands in for me in the Commons. He sits with me on the policy board, going through the manifesto setting out the policies of the party,” he continued.

“People haven’t seen enough of William and the huge role he has. You are going to see him in the front line on national issues. I want people to see the strength of my team.”

Mr Hague is arguably the best Commons performer in the party, with the only real competition being the leader himself. He was renowned for beating Tony Blair during prime minister’s questions, although it did not translate into electoral success.

The comments will prompt continued speculation as to George Osborne’s role in the party.

The shadow chancellor was viewed as Mr Cameron’s right-hand man, but the fallout from the Deripaska affair left him weakened, and Westminster has been full of rumours of him losing his position ever since.

“George is an incredibly effective shadow chancellor,” Mr Cameron said.

“William, George and I work incredibly closely together. We will continue to do so. It doesn’t reflect on George’s position, absolutely not. There hasn’t been a single issue where we have different views.”