Today at Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron called his Foreign Secretary ‘excellent’. Which would’ve been lovely for William Hague to hear after the press he’s been getting of late. It would’ve been a nice boost to his probably flagging morale. Excellent is not a word thrown around the chamber of the House of Commons very often, after all. The trouble was William Hague wasn’t there to hear it.
You may say that it’s not unusual for a Foreign Secretary to be away from Westminster. You can be sure David Miliband wasn’t in the chamber for every session of Gordon Brown’s PMQs. And you’d be right, of course. A lot of Cabinet front-benchers will have business away from the Commons on a Wednesday lunchtime. The exception being that a minister is expected to attend PMQs if a subject within that minister’s brief is expected to be brought up.
I know Cameron and Hague live on another planet a lot of the time but there’s no way that either of them could not have expected questions on the portfolio of the Foreign Secretary to arise, given the mess that’s been made in Libya. British soldiers arrested after a botched insertion, UN deals over no-fly zones, the White House releasing statements about Obama and Cameron agreeing to support rebels in Libya. With all that going on, everyone knew that questions would be asked at PMQs.
Now if Hague had been in Tokyo, Toronto, or Timbuktu at some long-standing appointment, we’d understand him not making it. But the long-standing appointment that kept him out of the
spotlight chamber was 15 minutes walk along Birdcage Walk at Buckingham Palace giving a briefing, apparently, on Libya. It may be rude to cancel on the Monarch, but it surely could’ve been done? I mean she would only really have wanted to talk about her second son’s employment status. So nothing of any importance….
I wrote here that I thought Hague would be the one to take the blame for Government handling of Libya and it looks like I was right.