Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson Dies Aged 91

The Conservative politician served in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet in the 1980s.
Chancellor of the exchequer Nigel Lawson with prime minister Margaret Thatcher at the Conservative party conference in Blackpool in 1989.
Chancellor of the exchequer Nigel Lawson with prime minister Margaret Thatcher at the Conservative party conference in Blackpool in 1989.
Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Nigel Lawson, chancellor of the exchequer under Margaret Thatcher, has died aged 91.

The former MP and leading Brexiteer served in Thatcher’s government in the 1980s and sat in the House of Lords until his retirement in December.

Having been editor of influential right-wing magazine The Spectator, he entered the Commons in 1974 as the MP for Blaby in Leicestershire and stayed there until 1992.

Lawson had six children, including celebrity cook and food writer Nigella and journalist Dominic.

Following a report in the Telegraph, prime minister Rishi 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.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt tweeted: “Nigel Lawson was a rarity amongst politicians, someone who transformed our thinking as well as transforming our economy.

“Since he stepped down as chancellor his shoes have been impossible to fill but he inspired all his successors, leaving the country more prosperous & enterprising.”

Former prime minister Boris Johnson, Tory chairman Greg Hands and ex-chancellor Sajid Javid were also among those who paid tribute.

Johnson said: “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.

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

Preparing his budget, Nigel Lawson in 1987.
Preparing his budget, Nigel Lawson in 1987.
via Associated Press

Foreign secretary James Cleverly said on Twitter: “Sad news that Nigel Lawson has died.

“A true statesman. His contributions to this nation will not be forgotten.”

Javid tweeted: “Very saddened to hear this.

“One of Britain’s greatest public servants, especially as chancellor. Thinking of his family. May he RIP.”

Lawson was Thatcher’s “unassailable” chancellor of the exchequer for six years, until he resigned after a long-running and bitter storm over her reliance on monetarist guru Alan Walters as her economic adviser.

During his first term at 11 Downing Street, from 1983 to 1987, Lawson presided over a startling turnaround in the economy, which saw unemployment plummet, direct taxation sharply reduce and Britain’s budget deficit turn into a surplus with which he began paying back the centuries-old National Debt.

His career reached a pinnacle in 1988 when, in the most dramatic budget of recent times, he cut the basic rate of tax to 25p and slashed the top rate to 40p.

Lawson also became known for his views on climate change, opposing international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, and was the founding chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which has lobbied against climate change policies such as net zero.

He was also an outspoken Eurosceptic and a prominent voice in the successful campaign for the UK to leave the European Union in 2016, serving as the chairman of Vote Leave.


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