'Brilliant, incisive, extraordinary, outstanding' - PM leads tributes

The Prime Minister led the tributes to the man whose resignation on the eve of war in Iraq almost brought him down. But as he and others acknowledged last night, it was a decision taken on principle and executed without rancour.

His brilliance as a parliamentarian, forensic investigative skills and tactical acumen were the main themes of accolades paid him from all quarters.

His legacy, said Mr Blair, would be that he had helped to redefine Britain's relationship with Europe, and had put human rights at the heart of foreign policy.

"Robin was an outstanding, extraordinary talent - brilliant, incisive in debate, of incredible skill and persuasive power," he said.

Mr Blair said Mr Cook had been a "close colleague". "He was always stimulating, energetic and, of course, grasped every detail of his brief.

"Though we disagreed over Iraq, I always respected the way in which he put his case."

Gordon Brown called him "one of the greatest parliamentarians of our time", praising his "forensic skills" and "formidable debating prowess". "All of us recognised that his disagreements over Iraq arose from principle," said the Chancellor of Mr Cook, to whom he had lately become close after decades of rivalry.

For the Conservatives, Michael Howard said: "Robin Cook's contribution to British politics was immense. He was a politician of principle who fought hard for the things he believed in. He will be greatly missed."

The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, said: "Scottish, British and international politics have lost a good and gifted man. Robin was a genuine radical and reformer by intellect and instinct - with a personal zest which matched his deep political integrity. As such he gave the business of politics a good name."

It was left to former colleagues, however, to give a more complete appreciation of a man who, for all his wit, sometimes cut a lonely figure in Westminster.

John Williams, the Foreign Office's director of communications, said: "Of course his intellect was formidable, but he was vulnerable, a very real human being. The criticisms of him hurt, and he really wanted to be a foreign secretary who made a difference."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'