Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor and Tory grandee dies at 91

The Jewish Hampstead-born former Chancellor is credited for overseeing the economic boom of the 1980s


LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Chairman of the 'Vote Leave' campaign, former cabinet minister Nigel Lawson speaks to guests at Chatham House on February 23, 2016 in London, England. Chatham House is hosting a series of members events aimed at presenting the central themes of the 'In or Out' of Europe campaigns. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Former chancellor Nigel Lawson, a towering figure in British politics credited with overseeing the economic boom of the 1980s, passed away on Monday at the age of 91.

Lord Lawson was born on March 11, 1932 to a Jewish family in Hampstead, north London. His father, Ralph Lawson was a successful owner of a tea-trading firm, while his mother was a member of a prosperous family of stockbrokers.

Becoming an MP for the Blaby constituency from 1974 to 1992, Lawson held several cabinet positions under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher between 1981 and 1989, becoming chancellor in 1983.

He is credited for being the architect for Margaret Thatcher's transformative economic policy that defined the political landscape of the 1980s, with a priority on lower personal taxes and free market economics which resulted in what became known as the “Lawson boom”.

He resigned from Thatcher’s cabinet in 1989 amid disagreements over policy and was given a life peerage in 1992.

The Conservative party grandee served on the organising committee of the Vote Leave campaign ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum and formed the Global Warming Policy Foundation to challenge scientific consensus on the issue, for which he faced criticism.

Following a parliamentary career of nearly five decades, Lawson retired from the House of Lords in December 2022.

His death has prompted a wave of tributes.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted a picture of himself with a framed picture of Lawson above his desk, with the caption: “One of the first things I did as chancellor was hang a picture of Nigel Lawson above my desk. He was a transformational chancellor and an inspiration to me and many others.”

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to him as “a giant” and a “fearless and original flame of free market Conservatism.”

“He was a tax-cutter and simplifier who helped transform the economic landscape and helped millions of British people achieve their dreams,” Johnson added.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron said: “one of the remarkable things about Nigel was that even after 5, 10, 20 years after he left the Treasury, officials and Ministers were still asking ‘what would Lawson have done?’. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said Lawson was “a rarity amongst politicians” who “transformed our thinking as well as transforming our economy.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly called him “a true statesman”, whose “contributions to this nation will not be forgotten.”

In 2010 he said that, although he was a “committed unbeliever” by his first year at Oxford, he considered himself Jewish by ancestry.

He defended Thatcher in her appeal to constituents in Finchley, saying the Prime Minister was “untouched by antisemitism,

“She took individuals on their own merits and recognised ability where she found it.”

He married Vanessa Salmon, heir to the Lyons Corner House dynasty in 1955 and had four children, including celebrity chef and food writer Nigella Lawson. The couple divorced in 1980.

He later married Commons researcher Therese Maclear and had two children with her before separating in 2008.

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