'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."
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
Greece debt crisis explainer: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
Greece debt crisis referendum: Greeks want to vote No to austerity – but Yes to Europe
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...