Conservative MEP Philip Bradbourn has died aged 63 after 45 years in the Tory party.
He had been diagnosed with bowel cancer shortly after being re-elected in May’s European elections and died last night, the Conservative Party announced.
David Cameron, Eric Pickles, Nigel Farage and Andrew Griffiths MP were among the politicians paying tribute to his years of service for the West Midlands.
The Prime Minister said Mr Bradbourn had a “truly admirable” dedication to public service and was a “well-respected and effective” politician.
He added: “Philip's dedication to public service was truly admirable; he was a well-respected and effective MEP. In a political career which spanned over four decades, he showed great passion in serving both the party and his constituents. My thoughts are with Philip's family at this sad time.”
Mr Bradbourn, who was awarded the OBE in 1994 for his public and political service, joined the Conservatives in 1969 and had been a town planning officer in local government for more than 20 years before becoming an adviser to the Conservative group on Wolverhampton City Council.
He was elected as West Midlands MEP in 1999 and in 2008, he won an apology from the now defunct News of the World, which wrongly claimed he used taxpayers’ money to fund a lavish trip to Table Mountain in South Africa.
Grant Shapps, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said: “Philip was a loyal and dedicated member of the party since he was a teenager, holding a vast variety of local and national positions over many years.
“Born and bred in the Black Country, he took immense pride in championing the West Midlands in his role as member of the European Parliament. He will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues in the party.”
Ashley Fox, leader of the Tory MEPs, called Mr Bradbourn a “one-off”, saying he was “a much loved character who could always be relied on for a robust intervention and a succinct summary of a political point”.
“His no-nonsense approach to politics made him a powerful voice for the West Midlands as well as a resolute defender of the British taxpayers' interests in Brussels and Strasbourg,” Mr Fox added.
Anthea McIntyre, Mr Bradbourn's fellow West Midlands MEP, said: "I am deeply saddened at the death of my friend and colleague.
“I have known Phil for nearly 40 years, from our days as Young Conservative activists in the West Midlands, through to recently working together as MEPs.
“He has been a real champion of our region and its people in the European Parliament, and well respected across the political spectrum. He will be greatly missed.”
MPs and fellow European Parliament representatives have been taking to Twitter to pay tribute to Mr Bradbourn.
Very sad to hear of the death of West Mids MEP Philip Bradbourn. He was a chum for over 45 years he will be missed by his many friends— Eric Pickles (@EricPickles) December 20, 2014
Deeply saddened to hear about the death of Philip Bradbourn MEP. My sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) December 20, 2014
Sorry to hear of the death of West Mids MEP Philip Bradbourn.He was a great mate.You can't put into 140 characters how you feel at such news— Andrew Griffiths MP (@agriffithsmp) December 20, 2014
So sorry to hear that my old friend Philip Bradbourn MEP died late last night. He will be much missed. RIP.— Roger Helmer (@RogerHelmerMEP) December 20, 2014
We're very sad to hear that our colleague and friend Philip Bradbourn MEP lost his battle with cancer last night. RIP.— ECR Group (@ecrgroup) December 20, 2014
Very sad to hear news this morning that my colleague Philip Bradbourn died last night. Rest in peace Phil, we will miss you.— Julie Girling (@juliegirling) December 20, 2014
Sorry to hear of the passing of my colleague Philip Bradbourn MEP, a passionate fighter for the West Midlands.— Ian Duncan MEP (@IanDuncanMEP) December 20, 2014
Saddened to learn of the death of Philip Bradbourn OBE. An uncompromising fighter for the West Midlands in the European Parliament. RIP— Peter Smallbone (@PeterSmallbone) December 20, 2014
So very sorry to hear that my good colleague Philip Bradbourn MEP has passed away - a true Conservative stalwart,... http://t.co/mrrjoQ0cEX— Jacqueline Foster (@jfostermep) December 20, 2014
Very sad to hear of the death of my fellow West Midlands MEP Philip Bradbourn. A respected, honest, conscientious and hard working man.— Jill Seymour MEP (@JSeymourUKIP) December 20, 2014
Very sorry to hear of the untimely death of my old boss in Brussels Philip Bradbourn MEP. A true gent who will be sadly missed by many. RIP— Duncan Flynn (@DuncanFlynn81) December 20, 2014
Additional reporting by PA