Monitor: The Sunday newspapers reflect on William Hague's position

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WILLIAM HAGUE was never more than a smart-alec debater. That was his downfall, for he tried to be too smart with Tony Blair.

Mr Hague has failed himself, his party and his country.

But it is not entirely his fault.The internal warfare and hatred among Tory MPs led them to pick a boy to do a man's job.

Now we see the farcical and tragic consequences.

Sunday Mirror

THE WEEK which ought to have been William Hague's best turned out to be his worst. Mr Hague made a bad tactical misjudgement at Prime Minister's Question Time by attacking Mr Blair solely over the aborted deal which Lord Cranborne had agreed.

Not only did he miss an opportunity to torment the Government over the EU's tax plans. He fatally underestimated the Prime Minister's insouciance when accused of breaking his own principles.

But this does not mean the Tory leader acted wrongly once the crisis erupted. Lord Cranborne charmingly compared himself to an "ill-trained spaniel". Abandoning hunting metaphor, one might more pertinently describe his actions as devious, disloyal, two-timing, arrogant and mendacious.

We suspect that when the dust has settled, it will be Mr Hague's principled toughness rather than the carnage on the red benches that will remain in the public mind.

The Sunday Telegraph

MR HAGUE'S critics delude themselves if they think he can be replaced before the next general election. The Tories have to decide: do they want to give Labour a free run into the next election or do they want to put up a decent fight? If the latter, then they had better start behaving like a proper opposition.

The Sunday Times

WILLIAM HAGUE'S chief function seems to be to make Blair look sincere and authentic, which is quite something.

No wonder the Tories are looking at Ann Widdecombe as an alternative. She, unfortunately, is frighteningly real. (Suzanne Moore)

The Mail on Sunday