Former Conservative leader William Hague has urged party members to support the “highly disciplined” and “rational” Rishi Sunak in a nearly six-minute video message.
As ballots for the leadership contest begin to land on the doormats of Tory party members, Lord Hague appealed to the grassroots, claiming the former chancellor is the best choice for prime minister.
In a video message, published by The Telegraph, the former Tory leader described how Sunak, who was “new to farming issues”, “not local” and from “an ethnic minority”, ended up replacing him as MP for Richmond in Yorkshire when he did not run for re-election in 2015.
Reminiscing about the campaign, he said, “I’ve campaigned with literally thousands of candidates. I have mentored dozens.
“It soon turned out that this one was the most diligent and efficient I had ever known.
“If I told him to visit someone in the hills, he would be there the next day for hours, just listening to them.
“He has a hunger to learn, to understand.
“One day, when I suggested he take it easy after a late event, he said he got up at 5 a.m. to join a farmer milking cows.
“’You don’t really have to,’ I assured him. “I know,” he said, “but I really want to know what it’s like. I have to understand it myself.”
The video also featured Richmond constituents, with one saying: “He (Rishi Sunak) is an icon up here.”
Lord Hague, speaking from what appeared to be his study, concluded: “Having grown to admire him through months of traveling through Yorkshire villages together, I hardly wish him this position, one of the hardest jobs in the world at the worst moment in decades.
“But then I think about the next Prime Minister, sitting late at night in Downing Street, working out how to help people with their energy bills, sort out the Northern Ireland Protocol, maintain the unity of the West.
“The best hope is a highly disciplined, rational individual, one who always goes out of his way to understand … such a person is a very rare find in British politics. Members should realize that they have one in their midst. His name is Rishi Sunak . He has my full support.”
Lord Hague led the Conservative Party from 1997 to 2001.
From 2010 to 2014 he served as foreign secretary, and between 2014 and 2015 he was leader of the House of Commons.
He was awarded a lifetime achievement in the 2015 Dissolution Honors List.
The video, which featured the official logo of Mr Sunak’s campaign, was shared on Twitter by several of his supporters.
Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab tweeted: “Rishi is an exceptional colleague and MP and the best candidate to be our next Prime Minister.
“Just ask William Hague and the people of Richmond.”
Oliver Dowden, who resigned as party chairman after the Tories’ double by-election defeat, wrote: “Serious times call for serious leadership.
“As Lord Hague says it is Rishi Sunak.”