The Death of an MP: The Career: A loyal European at heart

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The Independent Online
IT WAS typical of Stephen Milligan that his Commons maiden speech should have come during the Second Reading of the Bill to ratify the Maastricht treaty.

It was a sign of his commitment to and knowledge of Europe - and his unfailing loyalty to John Major.

He said then, in May 1992: 'I am proud to be pro-European. I make no apology for that. I believe the European Community has been one of the great success stories of recent times . . . Enthusiasm for Europe does not mean support for every idiocy suggested by Jacques Delors.'

As a journalist, Mr Milligan had worked as BBC Television's Europe correspondent between 1988-90, when he was selected for his Eastleigh seat. Before that he was the Sunday Times' foreign editor and Washington correspondent.

His journalistic and European credentials stretch back to his 13 years on the Economist, which began in 1970, working as industrial relations correspondent, Brussels correspondent and European editor. His book, The New Barons - British Trade Unions in the 1970s, was published in 1976. He was a presenter on BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight programme before joining the Sunday Times.

A product of Magdalene College Oxford and president of the Oxford Union in 1970, he once said that it was a 'bit rich' for Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader, to talk about educational standards when Mr Kinnock had not achieved any A grades in his A-levels, had failed his degree at the first attempt and got a pass degree at the second.

Beneath the Labour-bashing was a Bow Group moderate who had once toyed with the SDP. His diligence, brains and loyalty after becoming an MP in 1992 was quickly rewarded, with promotion within a few months to Parliamentary Private Secretary to Jonathan Aitken, the Minister of State for Defence Procurement.

Mr Milligan, who was unmarried, was the son of a company secretary and a ballet teacher. His other special parliamentary interests included the railways - as representative for the railway centre of Eastleigh he pressed for greater safety to prevent people falling from carriage doors - housing and broadcasting.

As a Washington journalist he was a friend of the late respected foreign correspondent David Blundy. As a Tory MP, compared to many of his colleagues, he was grown-up and straight, proferring serious and intelligent answers to lobby reporters' questions.

Despite claims that he was over- earnest, he had charm too. Informative without being indiscreet he combined cleverness with an absence of pushiness or self advertisement.

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