Wednesday 18 October 2017

Tony Blair pays tribute as 'remarkable' father Leo dies aged 89

Oliver Wright

Tony Blair last night paid tribute to his "remarkable" father who died yesterday at the age of 89.

Leo Blair – whose own ambitions to enter Parliament as a Conservative were scotched when he suffered a stroke at the age of 40 - was always close to his son who described him as an “extraordinary spirit” who he was “privileged to have as a dad”.

“Raised in a poor part of Glasgow, he worked his way up from nothing, with great ambitions dashed by serious illness on the very brink of their fulfilment,” Mr Blair said.

“He lost my mother, whom he adored, when she was still young. Yet despite it all he remained animated by an extraordinary spirit that was in him until the end.

“I was privileged to have him as a Dad.”

In a statement, Mr Blair's office said Leo Blair passed away peacefully with his son at his side.

A Communist as a young man, Leo Blair served in the Army in the Second World War, then after demobilisation studied law in his spare time to become a barrister and later a law lecturer in Australia and at Durham University.

He became a member of the Conservative Party and chairman of the Durham Conservative Association, but his dream of entering Parliament was stopped by a stroke at the age of 40, when his son Tony was 11.

12 years later his wife Hazel - Tony's mother - died of throat cancer in 1975.

Leo remarried and moved to Shropshire with his second wife, Olwyn. He joined the Labour Party in his 70s, when his son became leader.

Tony frequently spoke of his closeness to his father, and named his fourth child after him in 2000.

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