‘She was terrific fun’: Top Tory Sir Bernard Jenkin fights back tears as he pays tribute to his ‘gentle and polite friend’ Dame Cheryl Gillan after the Conservative MP dies from cancer aged 68
- Sir Bernard fought back tears as he praised former Secretary of State for Wales
- MP for Chesham and Amersham passed away in early April after a long illness
- Called for the Commons to update its rules to make it easier for ill MPs to vote
Senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin broke down in the Commons today as he paid tribute to his ‘gentle and polite’ friend Dame Cheryl Gillan, after her death at the age of 68.
Sir Bernard fought back tears as he praised the former Secretary of State for Wales and MP for Chesham and Amersham, who passed away in early April after a long illness.
In an emotionally charged address in the Commons, Sir Bernard, the chairman of the senior Liaison Committee, talked about working alongside her after they were both elected in 1992.
And he called for the Commons to update its rules to make it easier for ill MPs to vote remotely.
The Harwich and North Essex MP said: ‘She knew how to get far more out of witnesses than most people because she was also gentle and polite. She became to me, particularly in later years, one of my most trusted friends.
‘She was an exemplary employer of her staff who were devoted to her. She was terrific fun and as has been said she was a champion of women in politics.’
He added: ‘We still do not give proxies to people who are incapacitated by sickness. Perhaps we should have a campaign to rectify this and call this campaign ‘Cheryl’s Vote’.’
A minister between 2010 and 2012 under David Cameron , Dame Cheryl was notable as the temporary co-chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers in 2019 when Boris Johnson was elected party leader and became Prime Minister.
Sir Bernard fought back tears as he praised the former Secretary of State for Wales and MP for Chesham and Amersham, who passed away 10 days ago after a long illness.
A minister between 2010 and 2012 under David Cameron, Dame Cheryl was notable as the temporary co-chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers in 2019 when Boris Johnson was elected party leader and became Prime Minister.
She was centre-stage during the leadership election, overseeing the voting process and announcing the MPs who had gone through each round.
Conservative former cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom described Dame Cheryl as a ‘true friend’, adding ‘perhaps most of all she was someone who loved to hug’.
She added: ‘She was really I think harmed by the fact that she was always so keen to give and yet this House, when she was very ill, only very latterly enabled her to proxy vote and to take part virtually.
‘We do need to think about that, I agree with (Sir Bernard Jenkin), we should call it Cheryl’s Vote, and I do hope we’ll make progress on it.’
Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said that Dame Cheryl had an ‘enormously generous heart’ as MPs paid tribute to colleagues who have passed away.
He said: ‘The whole House has lost one of its hardest working members, who had an enormously generous heart, always prepared to have a kindly word for anyone in trouble but above all a fierce and effective defender of her constituents in Chesham and Amersham’s interests.
‘People like Cheryl who enter politics for the very best of reasons are rare indeed and she’ll be sorely missed.’
Labour MP Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham), who is the Mother of the House, said: ‘I think sometimes politics can feel like a hostile environment and that’s why Cheryl was so important as somebody who was just completely warm, non-judgmental, vivacious and outgoing.
‘She called us all darling, not because she’d forgotten our names, but just because she wanted to put everybody at their ease.’
Conservative former minister Sir Graham Brady said: ‘She (Dame Cheryl) was a very smart, very stylish woman and always there to give support and as soon as something happened, and we had one or two emergencies in the last few years, a call to Dame Cheryl would immediately settle my nerves and I would know everything would be done as well as it could possibly be done.’
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