Hague portrayed as gibbering loner in Europhiles' broadcast

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The Independent Online
AN ELECTION broadcast that satirises William Hague, the Conservative leader, as a rambling vagrant was unveiled yesterday by two Tory Euro- MPs who oppose his Eurosceptic stance.

The three-minute film, to be broadcast on Monday evening, shows a man in a baseball cap, clearly intended to be Mr Hague. He is seen muttering to himself in a shop doorway, ranting about foreigners and begging passers- by for the price of a cup of coffee.

The broadcast was commissioned by John Stevens and Brendan Donnelly, who have quit the Conservatives in the European Parliament out of frustration with their lurch to the Right and formed the breakaway Pro Euro Conservative Party.

They are standing against their former colleagues in the European elections on 10 June.

The Hague figure, played by Tim Chipping, an actor, is heard fulminating against wealth, success and anything French or German. "We invented everything from bang-ers to brown sauce," he says. "I'll have a nice glass of chianti and some fine British baked beans ... No Frog's gonna tell me what to do. I'm king in my world."

The film, which was made by production company Matelot and will be transmitted on all terrestrial channels, originally showed the character swigging from a bottle of Haig whisky. That scene was cut for legal reasons.

Mr Stevens and Mr Donnelly are hoping to embarrass the official Tories and attract enough votes to push the party below 30 per cent of the total poll. They believe if they can achieve that, Mr Hague will be forced out of office and replaced by a leader with more congenial views on Europe. At the very least, they say, they hope to highlight to voters how deeply the party is split as the European elections approach.

Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine and other senior pro-Europe Conservatives have distanced themselves from the breakaway MPs. Mr Hague himself has called them "fanatics".

Mr Stevens and Mr Donnelly, who have opened an office in Smith Square in central London, a few doors from Conservative Party headquarters, were unrepentant yesterday.

Mr Stevens, a former City currency trader, said: "We are saying that the attitudes that Hague is enunciating are exactly the same as those of someone who has opted out of society.

"Hague and his hijacking of the Conservative Party are the biggest political barriers at the moment to the cause of getting Britain into the single currency."