Sunak and Johnson lead tributes to Thatcher's chancellor Nigel Lawson

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson lead tributes to Thatcher’s tax-cutting Chancellor Nigel Lawson after his death aged 91: PM reveals he hung picture of ‘inspirational Tory giant’ in his office

  • Former Tory Chancellor and leading Brexiteer Nigel Lawson has died aged 91 
  • Rishi Sunak said he hung a photo of the ‘inspirational’ chancellor above his desk  

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson have led tributes to Margaret Thatcher’s tax-cutting chancellor Nigel Lawson following his death at the age of 91. 

The Prime Minister described the party grandee and leading Brexiteer as an ‘inspiration’ while Mr Johnson marked him as a ‘giant’ of Tory politics. 

Mr Sunak said: ‘One of the first things I did as chancellor was hang a picture of Nigel Lawson above my desk. 

‘He was a transformational chancellor and an inspiration to me and many others. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.’

Mr Johnson added: ‘Nigel Lawson was a fearless and original flame of free-market Conservatism. He was a tax-cutter and simplifier who helped transform the economic landscape and helped millions of British people achieve their dreams. 

Former Conservative Chancellor Nigel Lawson (right), who served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet in the 1980s, has died at age 91. He is pictured with Ms Thatcher at Number 10

The Prime Minister described the party grandee and leading Brexiteer as an ‘inspiration’, revealing he hung a picture of him above his desk

Nigel Lawson is pictured with his wife Therese and the famous budget case on March 14, 1989

Nigella Lawson and Nigel Lawson attend the book launch party of ‘An Appeal To Reason’ written by Nigel Lawson, at the Garrick Club on April 16, 2008 in London

‘He was a prophet of Brexit and a lover of continental Europe. He was a giant. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.’

Deputy PM Dominic Raab said: ‘Saddened to learn of the passing of Nigel Lawson. He was a giant who changed the political weather, a lodestar for Conservatives, and a kind man always generous with his wisdom. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.’

Lord Lawson’s political career spanned nearly five decades, starting as an MP for the Blaby constituency in Leicestershire in 1974. 

He served in Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet from 1981 to 1989, with six years as her chancellor, before retiring as a backbench MP in 1992 and joining the Lords. 

He retired from politics altogether in December last year, with his last major contribution being a prominent leader of the Vote Leave campaign before the Brexit referendum. 

Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said Lord Lawson would be remembered for his ‘clarity of thinking, commitment to free-market economics and willingness to challenge orthodoxies’.

Former chancellor Sajid Javid said he was ‘very saddened’, adding that Lord Lawson was ‘one of Britain’s greatest public servants, especially as chancellor.’ 

Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool in October 1989

Nigel Lawson holds aloft the budget box outside 11 Downing Street on Budget day 1984

Nigel Lawson is pictured posing with his wife Therese, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Tory party chairman Kenneth Baker after giving his economic speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool on October 12, 1989

Lord Lawson was a prominent leader of the Vote Leave campaign before the Brexit referendum. He is pictured in May 2016 at the premiere of Brexit: The Movie in London

Lord Lawson was educated at Westminster School in London and Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained a first in PPE.

Before entering Parliament he had a distinguished career as a journalist. After ten years as a financial reporter and a year spent as a speech writer to prime minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home, he was appointed editor of the Spectator magazine in 1966, a post he held for four years.

In 1970 he stood unsuccessfully as Conservative candidate for Eton and Slough, but later won his safe Blaby seat in 1974, entering Parliament shortly before his 42nd birthday. 

Within two years he had been appointed an Opposition whip and in 1977 was made a spokesman on Treasury affairs.

A neo-liberal, he was appointed financial secretary to the Treasury when the party won power under Margaret Thatcher in 1979. 

Nigel Lawson in action during a visit in his constituency

Lord Lawson poses for a portrait at the Oxford Literary Festival on April 5, 2011

Douglas Hurd, Ronnie Corbett and Lord Lawson prior to seminar at Lancaster House to promote payroll giving to charity

In 1981 he entered the Cabinet as energy secretary and in 1983 he began a six-year stint as chancellor.

As well as being remembered as a tax-cutting chancellor, he also championed wider share ownership and free-market economics, forming the backbone of Mrs Thatcher’s vision for Britain in the 1980s – though some blamed him for failing to control a boom that ended in a surge in interest rates and a deep recession. 

While Lord Lawson shared Mrs Thatcher’s economic philosophy, he opposed the introduction of the poll tax and, with foreign secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe, pushed the PM to join the ill-fated European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

After retiring from frontbench politics, 17-stone Lord Lawson famously lost five stone in weight, dramatically changing his appearance and going on to publish The Nigel Lawson Diet Book.

Nigel Lawson is pictured outside 11 Downing Street in November 1984 prior to giving his Autumn Economic Statement in the House of Commons

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak led tributes to Lord Lawson on Monday night

Former PM Boris Johnson hailed Lord Lawson as a ‘fearless and original flame of free-market Conservatism’

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly called Lord Lawson a ‘true statesman’ 

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said Nigel Lawson was a ‘giant who changed the political weather

Ex-chancellor Sajid Javid also paid tribute to the late politician

He began sitting in the House of Lords as a life peer in 1992, serving in the upper chamber until December 31 last year. 

During his time in the Lords he remained active in politics as president of Conservatives for Britain, which campaigned to leave the European Union, and chaired Vote Leave during the referendum.

Lord Lawson and his first wife Vanessa Salmon, heiress to the Lyons Corner House restaurant chain, married in 1955 and had four children – Daily Mail columnist Dominic, celebrity cook Nigella, Thomasina, who died from breast cancer aged 32, and Horatia.

The Lawsons divorced in 1980 before he married former Commons researcher Therese Maclear. They had two children, Tom and Emily, before divorcing in 2011.

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