Thatcher’s Chancellor Geoffrey Howe dies aged 88
Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor and Deputy PM Geoffrey Howe has died, aged 88.
Lord Howe passed away after suffering a suspected heart attack, it was confirmed this afternoon.
The former Conservative politician served in Margaret Thatcher’s government for nearly 12 years, including spells as Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister – but his resignation in 1990 sparked her eventual downfall.
Lord Howe was Foreign Secretary when the government passed Section 28, which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools – but while sitting in the House of Lords in 2000, he voted for an attempt to repeal of the law.
He was also Foreign Secretary while the government was under pressure to stop gay civil servants serving in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – though he conceded the issue was “difficult”.
His wife Baroness Howe of Idlicote, also a member of the House of Lords, spoke passionately in favour of equalising survivor benefits for same-sex couples in 2013.
She warned: “If we do not address this final discriminatory hurdle now, it will be several decades before all gay couples achieve equality.
“For gay men and women, it will mean decades of waiting as they continue to live with the reality that their loved ones may not be provided for when they die; decades in which individuals who have worked and contributed to their pensions, planned and been prudent, are subject to the whim of employers and pension providers, who may choose to pay a pittance in survivor benefits for no other reason than the gender of their spouses.”
David Cameron has led tributes to Lord Howe, saying: “He loved his politics and never stopped giving strong and sound advice.
“George Osborne and I benefited greatly from his wisdom and determination to improve the state of the country.
“The Conservative family has lost one of its greats. Our thoughts are with his family.”