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The BBC's Carolyn Quinn
"It is a healthier, lean and fit Mr Hague who leads the party these days"
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Tuesday, 8 August, 2000, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
Hague: I drank 14 pints a day
Tory leader William Hague
William Hague learnt much from the clubs of South Yorkshire
Conservative leader William Hague has admitted drinking up to 14 pints of beer a day as a teenager.

You worked so hard you didn't feel you'd drunk 10 pints by four o'clock

William Hague
In a move to dispel the notion that as a young man the only thing he imbibed to excess was political speeches, Mr Hague told GQ Magazine he used to drink a "horrifying" amount while working delivering soft drinks in South Yorkshire.

The Tory leader's claims led to the charity Alcohol Concern advising people against drinking such a large amount - which is over seven times the amount recommended by the government.

A spokesman for the charity said: "We say that people should stick to the government guidelines, but they should also remember that they are the maximum recommended levels and not the level people should be encouraged to drink at every day."

You don't look at him and see a 14-pint man

Max Clifford
Describing his drinking past Mr Hague attempted to shed his image as a youthful political obsessive and told the magazine: "Anyone who thinks I used to spend my holidays reading political tracts should have come with me for a week."

But leading PR man Max Clifford said the leader of the opposition was "trying to get away from the image of the sweet, precocious, 16-year-old cherub who stood up at the Conservative Party conference."

But added: "It won't work because it is obvious - you don't look at him and see a 14-pint man."

Between the ages of 15-21 Mr Hague had a holiday job delivering soft drinks and beer to working men's clubs for his father's business, Hague's Soft Drinks.

'A pint at every stop'

"I was the driver's mate, delivering the bottles and beer around South Yorkshire.

"We used to have a pint at every stop - well the driver's mate did, not the driver, thankfully - and we used to have about 10 stops in a day.

"You worked so hard you didn't feel you'd drunk 10 pints by four o'clock, you used to sweat so much. But then you had to lift all the empties off the lorry.

"It's probably horrifying but we used to do that then go home for tea and then go out in the evening to the pub."

When asked, Mr Hague agreed that it may have added up to a total of 14 pints a day.

Life experience

He said: "I think when you are a teenager you can do that, especially if you are working hard in the heat - this was always in the summer and it was hard manual work - you get through a lot of liquid."

The idea of him sinking 14 pints is laughable - nobody has seen him round here for years

Terry Glossop
Describing what he said had been a learning experience - visiting the pubs and clubs of South Yorkshire - Mr Hague said: "It was a great education, actually - knowing what Labour voters feel like as well as Conservatives.

"I think I learned more going round the clubs of Barnsley than I learned at Oxford about the human race in general."

Mr Hague also revealed in the interview that he was unaware of who the captain of the England football team was, despite trumpeting his support of his local team, Rotherham United.

Billy Fizz

When asked about the Tory politician's drinking abilities Terry Glossop, 47, assistant manager of the Angel, one of Rotherham's oldest pubs, said: "He worked for his father's soft drinks company and was known as Billy Fizz and Billy the Pop.

"The idea of him sinking 14 pints is laughable - nobody has seen him round here for years."

Rotherham MP Denis MacShane added: "This story about drinking 14 pints certainly differs from the image of him being a home boy who spent every waking minute reading Hansard.

"The William Hague we remember making a speech at 16 at the Conservative Party Conference doesn't really seem like somebody who was putting away 14 pints."

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12 May 00 | Health
Britain's big booze binge
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