Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd died on Wednesday “surrounded by his family” only days after announcing that he was suffering from an incurable form of leukaemia.
The Rochdale MP, who has represented the constituency since 2017 and who was first elected an MP in 1983, had been receiving chemotherapy for a form of blood cancer.
He announced on Thursday that the cancer had “transformed into an aggressive and untreatable form of leukaemia” and was leaving hospital to “spend the time I have left with my family”.
Sir Tony’s family said he died peacefully on Wednesday morning surrounded by his loved ones.
A statement from the family of Sir Tony Lloyd MP pic.twitter.com/6ag07VFYd6
— Tony Lloyd MP (@tony4rochdale) January 17, 2024
In a statement posted on the Labour MP’s account on X, formerly Twitter, they said: “We are absolutely devastated to announce the death of Sir Tony Lloyd MP, our beloved ‘Joe,’ ‘Dad’ and ‘Grandad’.
“He died peacefully this morning surrounded by his family, as was his wish.”
His family said the 73-year-old had been “working until a few days before his death” and that his “passion was helping others”.
They continued: “He devoted his life to serving and making a difference to the lives of those he met including his constituents, colleagues, friends, and family.
“We would like to thank all the dedicated doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and other hospital staff who have provided him with care, as well as the blood and platelet donors who gave him an extra four years of life.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to the veteran politician’s “desire to make the world a better, fairer place” and called his passing a “terrible loss”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said his thoughts were with Sir Tony’s family, friends and “the people of Manchester to whom he was devoted throughout his life” after hearing the “very sad news”.
Sir Tony first entered Parliament in 1983, being elected during that year’s general election — a disastrous showing for Labour under Michael Foot’s left-wing leadership — as MP for Stretford in Greater Manchester.
Following boundary changes, he stood and won election for Manchester Central during New Labour’s 1997 general election landslide.
Very sad news.
My thoughts are with Sir Tony’s family, friends and the people of Manchester to whom he was devoted throughout his life.
May he rest in peace.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) January 17, 2024
He would go on to serve in the influential position as chair of the parliamentary Labour Party between 2006 and 2012 before standing down from Parliament to successfully contest the election for police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester.
After losing to Andy Burnham in his ambition to become Labour’s candidate for mayor of Greater Manchester, Sir Tony returned to the Commons as MP for Rochdale in 2017.
During his Commons career, he was a junior minister for some of former prime minister Sir Tony Blair’s first term in office.
He also held a number of key opposition roles during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader, including shadow housing minister and shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland.
In 2020, he was admitted to intensive care after contracting Covid-19, standing down from the shadow cabinet to focus on his recovery.
He was knighted in the Queen’s 2021 birthday honours for parliamentary services.
I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Tony Lloyd’s death. He dedicated his life to public service and improving the lives of the people he served.
I will miss his friendship and his advice. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.
— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) January 17, 2024
Sir Keir said: “The death of Sir Tony Lloyd today is a terrible loss.
“I know the entire Labour Party, and many beyond the Party, join me in sending our deepest condolences to Tony’s wife, Judith, his children, Siobhan, Angharad, Kieron and Ali, and his granddaughters, Carmen and Carys.
“Like them, we will remember his deep commitment to Labour values and his decency.
“We will always be grateful for his dedication to public life, his devotion to his country and his desire to make the world a better, fairer place.”
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves tweeted that she would miss Sir Tony’s “friendship and his advice”.
Louise Haigh, the shadow transport secretary, said she was “absolutely devasted”, calling the MP an “incredibly kind, supportive and deeply principled colleague”.
“He will be very badly missed. Love and condolences to his family and all those who loved him,” she said on X.
The Commons Speaker said Sir Tony “was the best of us” and an “all-round good guy”.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “Not only is his death a tragedy for his family and those who were so fond of him, but particularly for the House of Commons.”
Former PM Sir Tony Blair said he was “so very sorry to hear” about his former minister’s death.
“He was a lovely man, a valued colleague and a true public servant,” the former Labour leader said.
“And I particularly remember his excellent and good, structured chairmanship of the Parliamentary Labour Party. He is a great loss to the Labour family.
“My deepest condolences to Judith, their children and grandchildren.”
Mr Corbyn told LBC that Sir Tony was a “very principled” and a “decent guy”.
The left-wing former opposition leader said the pair, who entered Parliament at the same time, shared principles including being against nuclear weapons, the war in Iraq and tuition fees.