Teresa Gorman, a prominent and colourful Eurosceptic Conservative MP who later endorsed Ukip, has died at the age of 83.
She was a maverick, outspoken and controversial politician who won headlines for her enthusiasm for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), on which she spoke from experience. She said she wanted to be remembered as “St Teresa of the menopause”, saying: “My husband thinks it’s terrific. Until you get to 50 he chases you around the bedroom but after HRT you are chasing him. HRT keeps you out of hospital, out of an old folks’ home and out of the divorce courts.”
Ms Gorman claimed in 2012: “You have to get old, but you don’t have to get old gracefully. Just look at the Queen – she’s on HRT. And the Queen Mother was, though everyone said it was the gin that kept her young. And Margaret Thatcher was on it, but then they took her off it and look at her now – she looks terrible.”
After Tom Bradby, political editor of ITV News, was sent as a young producer to organise an interview with Ms Gorman, she rang one of its women journalists to say: “Have that boy scrubbed and sent to my room.” He didn’t go.
Ms Gorman, who trained as a teacher, was elected to Parliament in 1987 in Billericay, where her plain-speaking approach went down well with “Essex man”. During the Conservatives’ selection process, she pretended to be 10 years younger than she was to boost her chances. It was her 12th attempt at becoming an MP and she held the seat until 2001, when she stood down.
A free-market Thatcherite, she suffered the embarrassment of being suspended from the Commons for a month after proposing repeal of the Rents Act, without declaring her ownership of three properties in south London between 1987 and 1994. The Commons Privileges Committee found she gave it “seriously misleading and inaccurate information”. It ruled that she improperly contacted witnesses during the investigation and breached the code of conduct for MPs. A feminist, she took on the sexism in the Conservative Party.
But she will be remembered most at Westminster for her Euroscepticism. She was one of the band of rebels who made Prime Minister John Major’s life hell as he tried to enshrine the EU’s Maastricht Treaty into law. She voted against her own government on 40 occasions on the issue and eventually lost the whip. She wrote a book entitled The Bastards, the name Sir John gave the rebels. Ms Gorman joined the “barmy army” of John Redwood when he stood unsuccessfully for the Tory leadership in 1995.
Ms Gorman was perhaps even too much of a maverick for Ukip, which declined her offer to run for Mayor of London even though she said she would be the “cabbies’ candidate”. She voted for Ukip at the general election in May.
Some of her views would seem outdated to today’s MPs, but she would beat many of her successors in one respect. As she once said: “I’ve got a spark of individuality, I suppose, and a mind of my own. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. It depends what you think a politician should be about.”Reuse content