Hague brushes off resignation chatter

By Alex Stevenson

William Hague has pledged to remain at the Foreign Office as he oversees Britain’s response to “historic times” in the Middle East and north Africa.

The foreign secretary had faced speculation that he might quit after enduring a torrid time in recent weeks. Bookmakers William Hill cut the odds of him losing his job by the end of March from 33/1 to 20/1.

Yesterday he was forced to explain to the Commons how an SAS mission into eastern Libya had gone horribly wrong, after seven personnel were arrested and detained by rebel forces.

That came just a fortnight after the difficulties of evacuating British citizens from Libya, which forced both Mr Hague and prime minister David Cameron to apologise and announce an internal review.

Mr Hague made clear he had no intention of quitting during a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas this afternoon.

“These are historic times and momentous events are taking place,” Mr Hague told journalists at the Foreign Office.

“All of us who have taken on the job of shouldering responsibilities at this time must see those responsibilities through for an extended period of time, in the face of any criticisms or setbacks.”

Britain is currently drawing up “elements” of a UN security council resolution on introducing a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace as part of contingency plans.

“That is still contingency planning,” Mr Hague added. “There must be a demonstrable need that is accepted broadly by the international community.”

Libya intervention edges closer

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) thinktank warned earlier today that implementing a no-fly zone was “doable” but held significant risks.