Lord Michael Spicer dead – Former 1922 Committee chairman and European Research Group founder dies aged 76 after long illness

TORY grandee Lord Michael Spicer has died aged 76, his family announced.

The former backbench chief – who headed the 1922 committee and founded the ERG – passed away in hopsital after a secret battle with Parkinson's and Leukaemia.

Widow Lady Spicer said: "He has been the most amazing husband and a wonderful father and he has done a lot politically, as well as a lot of painting and art work as well."

A statement released on behalf of the family added: "Ann, the wife of Lord Michael Spicer and her family wish to announce that Michael died peacefully this morning in hospital after a long illness.

"They are sure that many will be sad to hear this news. They would be grateful for a few moments privacy whilst they take into account what has happened."

He had been a MP for Worecestershire since February 1974, and served in the capinet from 1984 to 1990.

In 1993 he former the European Research Group of like-minded Eurosceptic MPs.

In his last major House of Lords speech, he said: "My Lords, this may be the last time I address this House on a point of substance – unless my health changes.

"My physiotherapist says that I will be playing tennis again by Christmas, which would be nice because I used to captain the parliamentary tennis team.

"But at the moment I do not think I could crawl here from the Bishops' Bar in a straight line without what that nice lady has given me across the counter.

"Briefly, I want to make it clear why for the past 30 years I have been a pain in the neck to those who want to stay in Europe. I formed the Fresh Start group and the ERG some 30 years ago. I did so for a one-word reason.

"The word I want to use is "patriotism". I do not mean the fascist form of wrapping yourself up in a flag; I mean a bit of sentiment – John Major's warm beer and the shadows of the trees across the cricket pitches, the music of Elgar, the Trooping of the Colour – but that is not the essence.

"The essence of why I oppose staying in the European Union is that it seems to me that the nation state is the best unit for democracy."

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