Tributes continue from Tory grandees following death of Nigel Lawson

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Tributes continue to be paid by Tory grandees following the death of Conservative former chancellor Nigel Lawson.

Former prime minister Sir John Major said Baron Lawson of Blaby, who has died aged 91, was “one of the essential pillars of the 1980s’ Conservative government” and will be “long remembered”.

Conservative former prime minister Theresa May said Lord Lawson’s “reforming zeal inspired generations of Conservatives”.

He also played a significant role in the UK’s decision to leave the EU, having chaired the Vote Leave campaign ahead of the 2016 referendum.

Sir John, who also served in Lady Thatcher’s government, said: “Nigel Lawson was a commanding chancellor and, together with Geoffrey Howe, one of the essential pillars of the 1980s’ Conservative government.

“His influence was respected well after he left government, and he will be long remembered.”

Mrs May said: “Sad to hear of the death of Nigel Lawson. I will remember him as a statesman whose reforming zeal inspired generations of Conservatives and as a patriot who believed passionately in his country. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Meanwhile his daughter, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, thanked wellwishers for their support on social media.

She tweeted: “Thank you for all your kind messages. And I’ll be back on here (Twitter) properly tomorrow.”

Another Conservative former prime minister, David Cameron, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme Lord Lawson helped him learn the lessons of “responsible fiscal policy” and “the importance of not falling out with your chancellor”.

He said: “I think people forget the sort of mess we were in at the end of the seventies … and he and Thatcher and Geoffrey Howe and others sort of created this successful market-driven, low-tax, simple-tax economy that was successful for the UK and copied around the world.”

He added: “He was a brilliant chancellor, he has an amazing record … he does inspire people today. I remember as prime minister and with George Osborne as chancellor we would often ask ourselves ‘what would Nigel Lawson do?’ And fortunately he was still there and we could ask him. He was inspirational like that.”

On the lessons he learned from Lord Lawson, Mr Cameron said: “One of the great lessons I learned was the importance of not falling out with your chancellor of the exchequer.

“I saw it with Thatcher and Lawson when I was in the research department … and I was absolutely determined to have a better relationship with my chancellor.”

Mr Cameron said he did not agree with cutting interest rates in 1988, which he said was “damaging”, but added: “You get more tax revenue by being tax competitive, and I think that was the great lesson that Nigel Lawson taught us.

“But, like all politicians, they make mistakes and there are parts of the legacy that are less good than others. But I think that tax reform, tax simplification, privatisation, deregulation that he put in place in the eighties gave us a great decade of growth.”

George Osborne, who served as chancellor during Mr Cameron’s premiership, described Lord Lawson as “the Tory radical”.

Mr Osborne tweeted: “Nigel Lawson once called me to ask if he could use No11 for his 80th birthday party. I said ‘of course, but No10 could fit more guests’.

“He replied ‘absolutely not’. Every Tory chancellor since him has asked ‘am I being as bold as Lawson’ and answered ‘no’. He was The Tory radical.”

Former Conservative Party leader Lord Hague said Lord Lawson changed politics.

He told Times Radio: “He is the iconic Tory chancellor because he combined growth, simplified taxes and balancing the budget all at the same time, and created the whole intellectual framework that brought that about.

“He really did change politics, because of the intellect he provided for the Thatcher government, and it destroyed that government.

“His importance you can see from what I experienced as a new MP in 1989 when suddenly everything fell apart.

“So this is a very towering figure in politics whose resignation would do something like that.”

Lord Lawson resigned as Lady Thatcher’s chancellor after a long-running battle over her reliance on economic advisor Sir Alan Walters.

The bombshell resignation in October 1989 marked the early stages of a series of events which were to lead to Lady Thatcher’s own downfall 13 months later.

Tributes to the former chancellor extended beyond party lines, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer describing Lord Lawson as “a real powerhouse”.

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to Burnley College, Sir Keir said: “Nigel Lawson was a real powerhouse. And it was possible, quite rightly, for people to disagree profoundly with what he said but have a huge respect for him.

“And I think you’ve seen an outpouring of that respect across the political parties today. And I think that is truly fitting of Nigel Lawson.”

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