Hague drops plan to hire ex-editor

A REARGUARD action by senior Tory party staff yesterday persuaded William Hague to drop his plan for hiring Jonathan Holborow as the chief "spin doctor" at Conservative Central Office.

Tory party officials were privately confirming that Mr Holborow was expected to move to Conservative Central Office 24 hours earlier, but yesterday the deal fell through. "There were no hard feelings on either side," said a senior party source.

The Tory leader and the party's chief executive, Archie Norman, saw Mr Holborow, former editor of the Mail on Sunday, as the best choice for reconnecting the Conservatives to Middle-England voters, and helping the party to lift itself out of the doldrums in opinion polls.

But senior staff urged against the move, which would have threatened to sideline Gregor Mackay, Mr Hague's press officer, who fought against the idea of hiring a top-flight Fleet Street figure on a six-figure salary.