Tory MP Eric Forth dies

Conservative MP Eric Forth dies
Conservative MP Eric Forth dies

Conservative MP Eric Forth has died at the age of 61, after suffering from cancer.

The MP for Bromley and Chiselhurst, one of the most colourful figures in British politics, died last night at Charing Cross hospital in London.

Elected MEP for Birmingham North in 1979, Mr Forth first entered the House of Commons as MP for Mid-Worcestershire in 1983.

When the boundaries were changed in 1997 he failed to win selection for the new seat, and instead stood in the London constituency of Bromley and Chiselhurst, where he remained until his death.

The Glasgow-born MP served as industry minister under Margaret Thatcher and education minister under John Major.

After a brief spell on the backbenches after Labour came to power, Mr Forth was appointed shadow leader of the Commons in 2001 by fellow right-winger and then Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr Forth held that position for two years, where he enjoyed weekly encounters in the House with his government counterpart, the late Robin Cook.

He was best known for his impressive use of parliamentary procedure to thwart the plans of both government and backbenchers to introduce new legislation, particularly when he felt it was being rushed through.

Responding to news of his death this morning, Bob Neill, the leader of the London assembly Conservatives and the member for Bexley and Bromley, expressed his condolences to Mr Forth's wife and two daughters.

"This is an absolute tragedy. Eric was a good personal friend and a magnificent parliamentarian," he said.

"I greatly appreciated working with him over the years and know at first hand the effort he put into representing his constituents and maintaining the strength of the House of Commons as an institution."

The leader of the Conservatives in the European parliament also paid tribute to the former MEP, expressing his "shock" at Mr Forth's early death.

"We feel it particularly deeply because he was a former MEP who took his duties as a fearless parliamentarian as seriously in Brussels as he did in the House of Commons," said Timothy Kirkhope.

"Eric was a great character. He will be missed by us all."


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