Conservative MEP Philip Bradbourn dies aged 63 after bowel cancer diagnosis

Friends called him a 'much-loved character' who will be missed

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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.”

The Prime Minister led the tributes

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.

Additional reporting by PA