Dame Cheryl Gillan death: Boris Johnson pays tribute to ‘much loved’ MP

Former secretary of state for Wales dies aged 68 after long illness

Peter Stubley
Monday 05 April 2021 17:20 BST
Cheryl Gillan reads out the results from the first round of the 2019 Tory party leadership contest
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Boris Johnson led tributes to Dame Cheryl Gillan as a “great servant to the country” after the Conservative MP’s death this weekend following a long illness.

The prime minister said the 68 year old, who represented the Chesham and Amersham constituency, was “much loved” and would be “sorely missed”.

“I’m very sad to hear the news of the death of Dame Cheryl Gillan,” said Mr Johnson.

“She was a great servant to the people of Chesham and Amersham, to the Conservative Party and to the country as secretary of state for Wales.

“Always full of wise advice and good humour, she was much loved on all sides of the House of Commons and will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to her family and friends.”

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The former marketing executive was elected to her constituency in Buckinghamshire in 1992 and served as secretary of state for Wales under David Cameron between 2010 and 2012.

Welsh secretary Simon Hart said: “Dame Cheryl Gillan was a hugely respected figure who contributed a great deal to Welsh and UK politics over many years. She will be fondly remembered.”

She later presided over the Tory leadership contest to succeed Theresa May in 2019 while serving as joint chair of the 1922 Committee and was a noted campaigner against the HS2 rail project. She backed leaving the EU in the 2016 Brexit referendum and voted against gay marriage in 2013.

The Cardiff-born MP was also known for her work on the issue of autism, leading the Austism Act 2009 through parliament and working on the country’s first autism strategy.

Fellow Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, said that she had been a “great source of strength” as they went through chemotherapy together.

She added: “When she told me she was dying I told her all the nice things I would say so she knew she was an incredibly inspirational woman in politics who fought for the things she believed in.

“She was always kind and helpful to us newbies. She had oodles of wisdom from her years as an MP which she shared willingly. I shall miss her greatly.”

Amanda Milling MP, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, said: “It was incredibly sad to hear that Dame Cheryl Gillan MP passed away at the weekend.

“Cheryl had been ill for some time, but battled her illness with great stoicism and grace.

“Cheryl was a dedicated parliamentarian for many decades, serving in the Cabinet and she made a huge contribution to public life and our party.”

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the House of Commons, said her death would leave “a big hole in all our lives”.

“Dame Cheryl Gillan was one of the most popular, friendly and kindly people in the House of Commons,” he said.

“She was someone who drew people to her because of her warm, sunny disposition and good sense of humour.

“An assiduous attendee of debates, Dame Cheryl never passed up an opportunity to speak against the proposed high speed rail link HS2. She will be sorely missed.”

Priti Patel, the home secretary, described her death as “the saddest news” and said: “A remarkable parliamentarian and pioneer for many women in Westminster. A dear and compassionate friend and colleague who was much loved by us all.”

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour MP Jess Phillips and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham also paid tribute, with the opposition leader saying she was “respected across the House and a great champion for her constituents”.

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