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Tony Blair's Father Dies

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Tony Blair's father Leo has died, the former prime minister's office has announced.

Mr Blair, who was with his father when he passed away earlier today, said he was "privileged to have him as a Dad".

The former PM said: "He was a remarkable man. Raised in a poor part of Glasgow, he worked his way up from nothing, with great ambitions dashed by serious illness on the very brink of their fulfilment.

"He lost my mother, whom he adored, when she was still young. Yet despite it all he remained animated by an extraordinary spirit that was in him until the end.

"I was privileged to have him as a Dad."

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Tony and Cherie Blair, pictured with Leo, on the night of the 2001 General Election.

Blair pulled out of hosting an event with former US president Bill Clinton on Thursday night, saying his 89-year-old father had been taken seriously ill.

Mr Blair senior, who was 89, was the son of travelling entertainers who gave him up for adoption by a Glasgow shipworker.

A Communist as a young man, he served in the Army in the Second World War, then after demobilisation studied law in his spare time to become a barrister and later a law lecturer in Australia and at Durham University.

He became a member of the Conservative Party and chairman of the Durham Conservative Association, but his dream of entering Parliament was scotched by a stroke at the age of 40, when his son Tony was 11.

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Mr Blair with his father

Tragedy struck once more when his wife Hazel - Tony's mother - died of throat cancer in 1975.

Leo remarried and moved to Shropshire with his second wife, Olwyn. He joined the Labour Party in his 70s, when his son became leader.

Tony frequently spoke of his closeness to his father, and named his fourth child after him in 2000.