POLITICS
02/06/2015 08:47 BST | Updated 02/06/2015 09:59 BST

Speaker John Bercow Close To Tears In Commons Tribute To Charles Kennedy

Speaker John Bercow said Charles Kennedy had a "rare capacity" to "cut through to large numbers of voters of all persuasions". BBC
BBC Parliament
Speaker John Bercow said Charles Kennedy had a "rare capacity" to "cut through to large numbers of voters of all persuasions". BBC

Speaker John Bercow fought back tears as he said the House of Commons will mourn the passing of Charles Kennedy, a "principled, progressive and passionate politician".

The death of the former Liberal Democrat leader was reported to a sombre Parliament today as Speaker Bercow announced MPs would be given a dedicated session to pay their respects after Prime Minister's Questions tomorrow.

The Scottish politician's death at the age of 55 has shocked Westminster, prompting a wave of affectionate tributes from across the political spectrum.

David Cameron hailed Mr Kennedy as a man with an "immense ability" that had been "taken from us far too soon".

Against a hushed Commons, the Speaker heralded a politician with a "rare capacity" to "cut through to large numbers of voters of all persuasions".

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Speaker Bercow said: "It was with deep sadness, that I must report to the House the death of the former member of Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Charles Kennedy. Charles represented his constituency in its various forms in this House for almost 32 years.

"It is moreover a matter of record that he led his party, the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006, achieving the best parliamentary representation of his party in this House in living memory.

"On a personal note I was always grateful to Charles for his support, encouragement and co-operation. I think I carry the House with me in saying that Charles Kennedy was a principled, progressive and passionate politician. And very importantly a proud parliamentarian especially in an age where there is a cynicism about politics and politicians.

"Charles had that rare and uncanny capacity to cut through to large numbers of voters of all persuasions, and of none, across the country. He was doubtless assisted in that by his obvious sincerity, his relaxed style and his geniality. I know that he was widely respected and liked in all parts of this House, and he will be sadly missed.

"The House will want to join me in offering our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends."

The Prime Minister said: "This is a tragic loss for Charles’s family and my heart goes out to them and it’s also a tragic loss for politics and public life.

"He was someone of immense ability and it’s not that often in politics that someone comes along with brain, talent, wit and bags of humanity and Charles had all of those things.

"He achieved so much so young and he has been taken from us far too soon.”

Labour MP Gisela Stuart, Editor of Parliament's 'The House' magazine, told The Huffington Post UK: "He showed great generosity to his friends and even greater generosity to his adversaries.

"Working with him on the editorial team of the House Magazine I learnt to appreciate how shrewd a politician he was. Not in a devious, manipulative way .. but in a “standing up for what you think is right” kind of way. I miss him."