TRIBUTES have been paid to former Evesham and Pershore MP and chair of the Conservatives’ 1922 committee Lord Michael Spicer who has passed away at the age of 74.
A family spokesman said Lord Spicer died in hospital after a long illness. He had Parkinson’s and leukaemia.
His widow, Lady Patricia Ann Hunter, paid tribute to the ‘amazing husband and wonderful father’ and said he had remained involved in politics until his death.
During a 36-year career in the House of Commons, Lord Spicer represented Evesham and Pershore constituents after he was elected in February 1974 as the MP for the former South Worcestershire seat.
Following a boundary review which saw Evesham and the surrounding areas included in a new Mid Worcestershire seat, he continued his association with Pershore after comfortably securing the West Worcestershire seat in the 1997 General Election.
He served in various ministerial positions from 1984 to 1990, including at the Department of Trade and Department for Transport, and was given a life peerage in 2010 when he stood down from the seat.
A prominent Eurosceptic, Lord Spicer was also the chairman of the influential 1922 committee from 2001 and 2010 and oversaw the leadership elections of Iain Duncan Smith and former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.
Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin led the tributes to her predecessor and said: “I am so terribly sorry to learn that Lord Michael Spicer has died. Michael was always so kind to me when I was the candidate on his patch for four years from 2006 to 2010.
“After I was elected he went to the Lords and I regularly continued to solicit his wise counsel. He was always full of insight and wisdom and the last time I spoke to him he told me he was defying the medical profession, so it comes as terribly sad news.”
Evesham’s MP Nigel Huddleston said: “Michael was a incredibly kind man who gave me some great advice when I was elected as a Worcestershire MP, a role he held for 36 years with dignity, class and honour.”
In 1993 he founded the ERG, a Eurosceptic group of Conservative MPs, which has come to prominence in the past three years in promoting Brexit.
Speaking in the House of Lords in June last year, he described himself as ‘a pain in the neck to those who want to stay in Europe.’
“However much they support Europe, no one can claim the European Union is a democratic state, in the sense you cannot chose your Government if you are a citizen of the European Union,” he said.
“That is why I have always been against the European Union and in favour of the nation state, and above all the British nation state, which is in many senses the home of democracy.”