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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 September 2006, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Hague 'unconvinced'
On Sunday 10 September 2006, Andrew Marr interviewed William Hague MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Conservative deputy leader

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

William Hague MP
William Hague MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary

ANDREW MARR: Well somebody who's watched a party, his own party, tear itself to bits within the past has been at the epicentre of the painfully slow reconstruction process, is of course the former Tory leader William Hague, now the Conservative Foreign Affairs spokesman, just back from China.

Welcome, thank you very much for joining us.

What did you make of all of that?

WILLIAM HAGUE: It's very sad for the country. You know, I've been travelling in China, central Asia, they're bewildered by what is happening to the government of one of the great nations of the world.

I don't find it very convincing by the way, I think you did very well there getting Gordon Brown to answer so many questions.

But this idea that he gets on fine with Tony Blair, is totally relaxed about when he leaves, has no idea what his friend are doing, gets on wonderfully well with everybody else in the Cabinet.

I think either you in your job or I in my job actually believe all that stuff. But what a sad thing for this country - we have our soldiers fighting and dying in Afghanistan, we have a terrible situation in Iraq, we have 20,000 redundancies happening in the Health Service at home. How many minutes this week have these squabbling ministers spent on these real issues? And that is the real indictment of this government now.

ANDREW MARR: And what about what he was saying on Iraq, pretty close to what the Conservative party says too, isn't it?

WILLIAM HAGUE: It had become rather close, I've not heard that before from Gordon Brown. It is our criticism of what happened in Iraq for the government and the coalition in general did not prepare for the aftermath of the invasion and lost their authority in the aftermath of the invasion. Now that was a very serious failure of planning by the United States and by Britain.

I think it goes to the heart of how foreign policy is run in this country, that there was not the proper planning, that had always been put in before in previous conflicts. Now that is a serious charges against his own government, that Gordon is making there.

ANDREW MARR: You are just back from China. David Cameron has been in India. All these, the wire services, and the stories about saying you were meeting your counterparts. But I guess the Chinese don't really have opposition politicians. So, who were you meeting and what did you learn?

WILLIAM HAGUE: In the case of China, which is one, of course, one party, it's the foreign ministers, it's the heads of the international departments of the Communist party. Of course when you go to China it confirms that this is an incredible development in the world economy. When you stand there in Shanghai and you see 3,000 skyscrapers in front of you.

Something enormous is happening in the world, that is more exciting, more dynamic than anything happening in Europe. And the challenge is for Britain to engage with a country like that and to bring China into its international responsibilities if we can. You were talking earlier about the situation in Darfur in the Sudan and the terrible bloodshed that has happened there.

Now one of the obstacles to dealing with that is that China does not favour an interventionist approach on countries like that. It says actually that's their own business what is going on in the Sudan and we're not going to sign up for the United Nations going in there, we need to persuade a country like China that they have to join us in helping to make sure the United Nations is a credible organisation otherwise you get the United States behaving in a unilateral fashion.

ANDREW MARR: Did you raise the Human Rights issue at all with them?

WILLIAM HAGUE: Yes, on a frequent basis. I think..

ANDREW MARR: Did you get any response?

WILLIAM HAGUE: Their view of course is different from ours. You know, if you talk about...

ANDREW MARR: They're against them!

WILLIAM HAGUE: They have a very different view. They do say that they are changing politically, and of course it is true, that there is much more political discussion in China than there was 20 years ago.

It is true there's been a change. I don't think they actually know what happens, like what happens to this monolithic party in which there is now a great deal of internal debate? What happens to that when economic liberalisation has had another 20 years? And I think they just haven't worked that out yet.

ANDREW MARR: A little worried about it?

WILLIAM HAGUE: They are making it up as they go along now in political reform.

ANDREW MARR: And you talked to them about Iran in particular, where they have influence. Do you think you got anywhere at all in trying to help persuade them to put pressure on the Iranians to change their minds over the nuclear programme?

WILLIAM HAGUE: Well I don't know, this was another example of what I was just talking about in Darfur. How are we going to prevent nuclear proliferation in the world if the great powers of the world don't stand together to stop it? And that includes China and Russia.

So I have put that case to them and I know other governments have put that case to them - United States put that case to them. Again we have, this is, a lot of this is about sustained relationships over a long time and we're trying to make sure, David going to India, George Osborne was in Japan, I've been in China and Kazakhstan. But we will come to government with the relationships we need to conduct our foreign policy.

ANDREW MARR: Finally, very briefly, Euro - dead issue?

WILLIAM HAGUE: It is, I think it is a dead issue for this country. I'm sure there will be small countries, Malta and so on may join the Euro. But really it's off the agenda in this country you know. And I think I was seen as in a bit of a minority a few years ago saying, you know, we shouldn't have anything to do with the Euro.

Now that is the consensus in this country and it's indeed countries that are in the Euro that are wondering whether they should be in it rather than those that are out of it wondering whether they should get in to it.

ANDREW MARR: All right, William Hague, thank you very much indeed.


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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