Lord Cecil Parkinson: former cabinet minister dies aged 84
Tory grandee was one of Thatcher's 'closest confidants', but career was overshadowed by affair with secretary
Lord Cecil Parkinson, the former cabinet minister and a close friend of Baroness Thatcher, has died from cancer at the age of 84.
The son of a railway worker, Lord Parkinson served as a Conservative MP from 1970 to 1992 and sat in the House of Lords until last year.
The politician was chairman of the Tory Party twice and a member of the war cabinet during the Falklands conflict of 1982.
He also managed the party's successful election campaign in 1983 - the most decisive election victory since Labour in 1945 - and later became secretary of state for trade and industry.
Lord Parkinson was regarded as one of then prime minister Margaret Thatcher's "closest confidants and one of her few real friends in the top ranks of politics", says The Guardian. She had apparently planned to promote him to foreign secretary and effectively anoint him as her successor, adds the newspaper, noting: "His career, however, was overshadowed by his resignation as trade secretary in 1983 after revelations that his former secretary Sara Keays was pregnant with his child."
While he stood down from office over the affair, Lord Parkinson later served as secretary of state for energy and transport.
A statement from his family said: "Cecil passed away on 22 January after a long battle with cancer.
"We shall miss him enormously. As a family, we should like to pay tribute to him as a beloved husband to Ann and brother to Norma, and a supportive and loving father to Mary, Emma and Joanna and grandfather to their children.
"We also salute his extraordinary commitment to British public life as a member of parliament, cabinet minister and peer – together with a distinguished career in business."
Andrew Feldman, the Conservative Party chairman, told the Daily Telegraph: "Lord Parkinson made an enormous contribution to the Conservative Party and to public life. On a personal note, he always took the time to offer me his wise counsel on the role of party chairman. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this very sad time."