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MPs gather to say goodbye to ‘great man of Manchester’ Sir Tony Lloyd

Sir Tony Lloyd, 73, died on January 17 only days after announcing that he was suffering from an incurable form of leukaemia (Liam McBurney/PA)
Sir Tony Lloyd, 73, died on January 17 only days after announcing that he was suffering from an incurable form of leukaemia (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sir Tony Lloyd was hailed as a “great man of Manchester” by Rishi Sunak as the House of Commons gathered to say goodbye to the Labour MP.

The 73-year-old’s family watched the tributes in the chamber, with some MPs also seen wiping away tears as they listened.

Sir Tony died on January 17 only days after announcing that he was suffering from an incurable form of leukaemia.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle recalled his final phone call with Sir Tony after he left hospital, saying on Tuesday: “Tony made it so easy for me and he was that kind of person – he put me at ease when it was meant to be the other way around.

“He made sure it wasn’t a difficult conversation. I didn’t know that would be the last time we’d ever speak but I’m so glad we did.

“We’ve not only lost a great colleague and friend, the country has lost one of the nicest, most effective MPs.”

Prime Minister Mr Sunak said Sir Tony was an “enormously decent man who gave his life to public service”, adding: “In his penultimate contribution in this House, Tony said that change can happen and we must fight for the change we want to see.

“From the beginning of his career right to the end, Tony Lloyd lived those words.

“He was a great family man, a great man of Manchester and a great man of the House of Commons.

Tony Lloyd death
The Prime Minister said Sir Tony was an ‘enormously decent man who gave his life to public service’ (Liam McBurney/PA)

“He will be missed but he and the change he fought for and achieved will never be forgotten.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, addressing Sir Tony’s family, said: “I hope they can take some comfort in the memories and tributes of colleagues today, and I hope they see just how much Tony was loved and respected here in this House and how much he managed to achieve in his decades of public service.”

Sir Keir added he was able to convey to Manchester United fan Sir Tony the “high esteem in which he was held by everyone”, adding: “I hope it did give him some comfort and support in those final days.”

Sir Keir said Sir Tony used his final newspaper article to write about his hopes for 2024, which included peace in the Middle East and across the world, action on climate change, support for education and the need to help the NHS.

He added: “Tony might not be able to lead the fight for that better world he hoped for, but those of us he leaves behind will and we will have him in mind as we continue to fight for the causes he was passionate about, the values he lived and the people he served throughout his entire life.”

Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash (Stone) said: “It’s with great sadness that I stand and say goodbye to Tony Lloyd.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey described Sir Tony as an “absolutely lovely man”, adding to his family: “You should be really proud of him.”

Labour former minister Dawn Butler was overcome with emotion as she paid tribute to her former colleague.

She told the Commons when she was first elected, Sir Tony had advised her not to worry as she was “often going to feel lost” in Parliament and invited her to ask “any silly questions” she might have, adding: “I have passed that on to new MPs that come in.”

Greater Manchester Labour MPs gave an idea of Sir Tony’s personal interests outside the Commons.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) spoke of his “very good salsa dancing”, while Navendu Mishra (Stockport) paid tribute to his “fluent Spanish” skills.

SDLP MP Colum Eastwood (Foyle), meanwhile, said Sir Tony had shown qualities of “tolerance and restraint” in dealing with Northern Ireland’s political parties in his time as shadow secretary of state.

Sir Tony was first elected to represent Stretford in 1983 and also served as MP for Manchester Central following boundary changes.

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.

Sir Tony returned for a second stint in the Commons and represented Rochdale from 2017.