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Blair and Kinnock hail 'extraordinary' Healey

Denis Healey, left, with Neil Kinnock, centre, and then US vice-president George Bush in 1985. Credit: PA Archive

Former Labour leaders Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock have both offered tributes to the party's former chancellor Denis Healey.

Blair described Lord Healey as a "great champion for social justice, in and out of Government, a stalwart of the Labour Party, a true patriot who fought for and cared deeply about his country and an extraordinary and vibrant character."

He praised the peer for steering Labour and the country through "some of the most difficult economic times", and said his defeat of Tony Benn to become deputy leader in 1981 had "probably saved the Labour Party as an instrument of Government and social change".

"All of us in the Labour Party owe him a huge debt. Britain has lost a dedicated and faithful public servant," the former Prime Minister said.

Lord Kinnock, during whose leadership Lord Healey was shadow foreign secretary, said: "Denis had high intellect, great personal courage, charm and a sense of humour which was rumbustious and, when needed, lethal."

"He didn't suffer fools gladly or, indeed, at all. That partly explains why he was never leader of the party despite having rich political talent," he added.

Cameron: Healey a 'huge figure of post-war politics'

Denis Healey at the Treasury in 1974. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister has described Denis Healey as a "great man" and "huge figure of post-war politics" after his death aged 98.

David Cameron also called Lord Healey a "hero" for his service as a major in the Royal Engineers in North African and Italy during World War Two.

Lord Healey - whose first cabinet role came as defence secretary in 1964 - was a beach master during the battle of Anzio.

Mr Cameron added that the peer was a "brave politician" who "told his party hard truths about Britain having to live within her means".

We’ve lost a huge figure of post-war politics. A hero in World War Two as Beach Master at Anzio and a brave politician, Denis Healey told his party hard truths about Britain having to live within her means. By all accounts he was a hugely entertaining man personally – and author of tremendously readable and informative books.

A great man and a genuine public servant has left us. We should mourn with his family and give thanks for all he gave our country.

– David Cameron, Prime Minister

Corbyn pays tribute to 'Labour giant' Healey

Healey alongside his wife Edna with the Budget box in 1978. Credit: PA

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has led tributes to political "giant" Denis Healey, after the former chancellor's death aged 98.

Mr Corbyn was joined by politicians across the spectrum in hailing the Labour peer, and said: "Denis Healey was a Labour giant whose record of service to party and country stands as his testament. All our thoughts are with his family."

Current chancellor George Osborne also paid his respects, noting that Lord Healey was chancellor in the "most difficult circumstances" - referencing a period when the UK economy teetered on the brink of collapse, culminating in the government having to borrow from the International Monetary Fund in 1976.


Former Chancellor Denis Healey dies aged 98

Denis Healey was chancellor from 1974 to 1979. Credit: PA

Former Labour chancellor Denis Healey has died aged 98, his family has said.

The peer - who was chancellor in Harold Wilson's government from 1974 to 1979 - passed away peacefully at his home in Sussex, according to a statement.

He was twice defeated in bids to lead the party but became the deputy leader in 1980.

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