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Theresa May leads tributes to statesman Lord Carrington, who has died aged 99

The Conservative peer resigned as Margaret Thatcher’s foreign secretary after taking responsibility for the Argentine invasion of the Falklands.

Prime Minister Theresa May has led tributes to statesman and war hero Lord Carrington of Upton, who has died at the age of 99.

The last surviving member of Sir Winston Churchill’s post-war government, Peter Carrington famously resigned as Margaret Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary in 1982 after taking responsibility for the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands.

He had previously chaired the Lancaster House talks in 1979 which led to the establishment of the state of Zimbabwe, and later served as secretary-general of Nato from 1984-88.

Lord Carrington was Margaret Thatcher’s first foreign secretary (PA)

The Eton-educated hereditary peer was a tank commander in the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War, winning the Military Cross in the North-Western Europe campaign.

He took up his seat in the House of Lords in 1946 and went on to become the oldest and longest-serving member of Parliament’s second chamber.

Mrs May said his death marked “the end of an era and the loss of a statesman who was respected globally for his remarkable lifetime of public service”.

Lord Carrington resigned as foreign secretary in 1982 (PA)

The Prime Minister said: “There can be few people who have served our country for as long, and with such dedication, as Lord Carrington did – from his gallantry as a tank commander in the Second World War, for which he was awarded the Military Cross, to his service in government under two monarchs and six prime ministers, dating back to Winston Churchill.

“He was a much-loved and widely respected member of the House of Lords for nearly eight decades, and served with great honour and integrity in Government as foreign secretary, defence secretary, leader of the House of Lords, chairman of the Conservative Party and much more besides.

“These were qualities that he also brought to bear as a highly esteemed Secretary General of Nato – and, in the week of the Nato summit, I know that my fellow leaders will join me in offering our gratitude for his lifetime of service and our deepest condolences to his family.”

Former PM David Cameron described Lord Carrington as “a lovely man and a great public servant”.

“It was a huge honour having him to Chequers and listening to his stories of working with every Conservative leader from Winston Churchill onwards,” said Mr Cameron. “Kindness and brilliance in equal measure; he’ll be deeply missed.”

Lord Carrington and Baroness Thatcher attend the funeral of former minister John Profumo in 2006 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

And Sir John Major said he felt “immensely privileged” to have known Carrington.

“There are some of whom it is easy to say `I was proud to have known him’,” said Sir John. “Peter Carrington was one such.

“In war and in peace, he served our country with courage, grace and distinction. He never fell beneath the dignity of his office, yet leavened public life with an irreverent wit that delighted all who worked with him.

“The country has lost one of its greatest post-war statesmen. I not only feel proud to have known him, I feel immensely privileged.”

Mrs May’s effective deputy David Lidington, whose Aylesbury constituency in Buckinghamshire includes the Carrington family home at Bledlow, said on Twitter: “Very sorry to learn of the death of my constituent Lord Carrington, former Defence and Foreign Secretary & last surviving member of Churchill’s post-war govt.

“His career was given to public service. My deep sympathy to his family.”

Lord Carrington’s death on Monday came on the same day as the resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis – the first time two Cabinet ministers had quit within 24 hours of each other since he and Humphrey Atkins resigned in 1982.

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