Former Labour minister and Eurosceptic Lord Shore dies aged 77

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Lord Shore of Stepney, a former Labour cabinet minister and staunch Eurosceptic, died yesterday in St Thomas' Hospital, London. He was 77.

Lord Shore, who served under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, was admitted to hospital on 12 July after collapsing in the House of Lords.

Lord Callaghan of Cardiff joined Tony Blair last night in paying tribute to the former MP for Bethnal Green and Stepney for his loyalty and integrity throughout a distinguished political career. The Prime Minister said Lord Shore, who became a life peer on retiring from the Commons in 1997, was a "great servant" of the Labour Party.

"He made a huge contribution towards modernising the economy of the country and tackling urban deprivation," Mr Blair said. "Peter was a man of immense integrity with strong convictions and latterly played an important role in raising standards in public life. He was a great parliamentarian, a great patriot and a true servant of his constituents."

Lord Callaghan said: "He was a very loyal cabinet colleague with strong principles and convictions. I deeply regret his passing."

Tony Benn, a former Labour cabinet minister and close friend, who served in Government alongside Peter Shore, said he was a man of "outstanding ability and deep commitment combined with integrity and persistence".

He added: "His death imposes a great loss on British public life."

Long before the term Eurosceptic was coined, Lord Shore made his mark as an implacable opponent of the Common Market, campaigning vociferously in the 1975 referendum over membership of the EEC. In later life, he joined Tories and Liberal Democrats in arguing against the excesses of the European Union.

Peter Shore was born in 1924 in Great Yarmouth and educated at Quarry Bank Grammar School, Liverpool, and King's College, Cambridge. He joined the Labour Party in 1948, after serving as a flying officer in the RAF.

He entered the Commons as MP for Stepney in 1964 and represented the East End area for the remainder of his political life in the Commons. He helped to write the first draft of Labour's 1964 general election manifesto that brought the party back to power after 13 years of Tory rule.

He served as a parliamentary private secretary to Harold Wilson in 1965 and rose through a succession of posts until he was unexpectedly promoted as a Wilson loyalist to the Cabinet and Privy Council as Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.

In 1969, Wilson wanted to drop him from the Cabinet, as his anti-European views became more apparent, but kept him on as Minister without Portfolio.

After Labour's 1974 general election victory, he was appointed Secretary of State for Trade and when James Callaghan succeeded Wilson, he was made Secretary of State for the Environment.

After Margaret Thatcher's victory in 1979, Mr Shore became Foreign Affairs spokesman and later Treasury and Economic Affairs spokesman.

He upset left-wing critics when he condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and supported a US/Thatcher-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics. It was his implacable views on such subjects that counted against him when he stood against Michael Foot for the party leadership in 1980.

The party's rejection of him in favour of Neil Kinnock in 1983 was even more decisive.

He is survived by a widow, one son and two daughters.