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‘Absolutely not’: William Hague rules out Tory party chairman job after Nadhim Zahawi sacking

Lord William Hague (PA Archive)
Lord William Hague (PA Archive)

Lord Hague has categorically ruled himself out of returning to politics and becoming Tory party chairman.

The former Conservative party leader was favourite to take on the job after Nadhim Zahawi was sacked by the Prime Minister on Sunday.

Rumours swirled Lord Hague, a close ally of Rishi Sunak, would be offered the role when he was invited to attend last week's Cabinet 'away day' at Chequers amid growing concerns over Mr Zahawi's tax affairs.

But Lord Hague said on Monday: "I’ve seen reports of people placing bets on me being the new party chairman, please be aware that I will absolutely not be returning to politics in any shape or form, including that one."

The Tory chairman is a member of the cabinet and responsible for party administration and overseeing Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

Mr Zahawi was forced out of the job for "serious breaches" of the ministerial code over his tax affairs.

The Prime Minister's new ethics adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, found he had broken the rules by repeatedly failing to declare an HMRC investigation into his tax affairs that concluded with a £5million settlement, including a fine.

Downing Street insiders suggested Mr Sunak would not be rushing to replace Mr Zahawi as he was searching for a close ally to take on the job.

Bookmaker William Hill has Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt favourite to take on the job, ahead of Oliver Dowden and Housing Secretary Michael Gove.

Former PM Boris Johnson is 10/1 be appointed to the role after being backed by Jacob Rees Mogg to make a return to the cabinet.