Sir Gerald Kaufman, staunch Gibraltar supporter, dies at 86
Sir Gerald Kaufman, the oldest serving MP in the House of Commons and a staunch support of Gibraltar, has died at 86.
The family of the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton said he died on Sunday evening after battling a long-term illness.
Throughout his political career, Sir Gerald tirelessly defended Gibraltar in the Commons.
In 2002 he led the team of British MPs who acted as observers in Gibraltar’s referendum on joint sovereignty.
The Gibraltar Government said it was saddened by the news of Sir Gerald’s death.
“Sir Gerald has always been a firm defender of Gibraltar’s right to self-determination and in 2013 called for strong reprisals against Spanish incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters and the lengthy border queues imposed on the Rock by our neighbours,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.
“He sponsored the Gibraltar (Maritime Protection) Bill in the House of Commons.”
“The Government of Gibraltar expresses its deepest condolences to Sir Gerald’s family, friends and colleagues from all sides of the political spectrum at this sad time.”
In the UK yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn led tributes Sir Gerald and described the Father of the Commons as an "iconic and irascible" figure with "dandy clothes" who "loved life and politics".
Sir Gerald was first elected as Manchester Ardwick MP in 1970 before becoming Manchester Gorton MP after constituency boundary changes in 1983 until his death.
His family announced his death "with great sadness", saying: “Sir Gerald had been suffering from a long-term illness for several months, but, in that time, remained firmly committed to, and focused on, the activities and wellbeing of his beloved constituency, which he had served since first elected in 1970.”
"Sir Gerald dedicated his life to serving those who he believed would benefit most from a Labour government and Labour values in action.”
"He believed that policy and principle without power were simply not enough to deliver the better life that he fought for on behalf of his constituents for almost 50 years.”
"Though Sir Gerald had many friends and supporters in Manchester and across the world from his work on many campaigns and causes, he was in essence a private man.”
"There will be a further opportunity for those who wish to pay tribute to the contribution of this great socialist and parliamentarian in due course.”
"For now, his family request that his dignity and integrity be honoured through respectful reflection."
Sir Gerald's last spoken contribution in the Commons chamber was in a debate paying tribute to the Queen on her 90th birthday on April 21 last year, according to Hansard, the official report of proceedings in Parliament.
He spoke of wanting to reach a similar milestone.
"Turning 90 is a marvellous signpost in life, as I hope to experience myself before long," Sir Gerald said.
"Not long ago, one of my sisters turned 90 and we had a huge family celebration.
"Today, the national family is celebrating, and that very much includes those in this House."
Conservative grandee and former chancellor Ken Clarke is now the new Father of the House, the title given to the MP with the longest continuous service who is not a minister.
Mr Clarke was also elected in June 1970 but Sir Gerald held the title as he was sworn in first.