Tributes paid to former Welsh Secretary Dame Cheryl Gillan who has died aged 68

Dame Cheryl Gillan has died aged 68 after a long illness Credit: PA Images

Tributes have been paid from across the political spectrum to the former Welsh Secretary Dame Cheryl Gillan, who has died aged 68 after a long illness.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the former cabinet minister would be "sorely missed" and described her as a "great servant".

He said: "I'm very sad to hear the news of the death of Dame Cheryl Gillan,"

"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."

Dame Cheryl Gillan was Secretary of State for Wales between 2010 and 2012.

She was appointed by David Cameron after he formed his coalition government.

Although she was born in Cardiff, she was the last Welsh Secretary who was an MP for an English seat.

Her time in office included authorising the 2011 referendum, which significantly increased the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales.

After returning to the back benches she became a prominent opponent of Britain's membership of the European Union and remained MP for Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire until her death.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, also paid tribute.

"I'm desperately saddened to hear that Dame Cheryl Gillan MP has passed away," he said.

"Cheryl was a model of public service and was respected across the political spectrum."She was incredibly proud of her Welsh roots and served with distinction as Secretary of State."Cheryl was a good friend to the Welsh Conservatives and will be sorely missed."

Dame Cheryl Gillan was a member of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers Credit: PA Images

Dame Cheryl found herself centre stage of Tory politics when she was acting joint chair of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs from May to September 2019.

She helped preside, along with Charles Walker MP, over the Tory leadership contest to elect a successor to former Prime Minister Theresa May - a contest Mr Johnson won.

Simon Hart MP, the current Secretary of State for Wales, also paid tribute to Dame Cheryl and said she made a substantial contribution to public life.

"Dame Cheryl Gillan was a hugely respected figure who contributed a great deal to Welsh and UK politics over many years, including as Welsh Secretary," he said.

"She will be fondly remembered and I send my condolences to her family, friends and colleagues."

Dame Cheryl speaking during Parliamentary proceedings in the House of Commons Credit: PA Images

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said Dame Cheryl would be fondly remembered.

She said: "Cheryl served her constituents and her parliament well and will be fondly remembered by members of all parties for her role in delivering the 2011 referendum on law making powers.

"My thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family at this difficult time."

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the current Speaker of the House of Commons, said Dame Cheryl was a well-liked and popular politician.

He said: "Dame Cheryl Gillan was one of the most popular, friendly and kindly people in the House of Commons, so her passing leaves a big hole in all our lives.

"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."