William Hague and Ken Clarke, two men who’ve spent a quarter century at the top of British politics, announced their departures from public life as David Cameron sought to give his Tory party a younger, more female image before the 2015 election.
The prime minister embarked late today on the biggest restructuring of his government since he took office in 2010, with Foreign Secretary Hague and Clarke, a minister without portfolio, only the top two names in a series of firings and resignations. Also leaving office are Attorney General Dominic Grieve, Science Minister David Willetts, Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Lansley and Welsh Secretary David Jones.
While the exit from the Cabinet of Clarke, 74, had been signaled in advance, news that Hague, 53, was leaving the Foreign Office hadn’t been predicted. His career showed that British political lives can have second acts: After leading the Tories to one of their worst ever results in 2001, he became a successful author and then, in 2010, foreign secretary. He will now replace Lansley as leader of the house until he retires from Parliament at the 2015 election.
“William Hague has been one of the leading lights of the Conservative Party for a generation, leading the party and serving in two cabinets,” Cameron said in an e-mailed statement. “Not only has he been a first-class foreign secretary, he has also been a close confidant, a wise counselor and a great friend. He will remain as First Secretary of State and my de facto political deputy in the run-up to the election.”
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