Henry Plumb, the only British president of the European parliament, has died aged 97.
The former Tory politician was president of the National Farmers’ Union from 1970 to 1979 and was elected an MEP for the Cotswolds in 1979. He remained a member of the European parliament until 1999 and served as its president from 1987 until 1989.
The NFU president, Minette Batters, paid tribute after his death on Friday. “British farming has lost one of its greatest ever advocates and the NFU has lost its greatest ever president,” Batters said.
“There was no one more passionate about British farming than Lord Plumb and he remained a great champion for the sector throughout his life. He worked with a constant energy and determination to ensure the importance of farming was recognised by policymakers and continued to highlight the importance of the sector throughout his time in the House of Lords.”
Plumb was knighted in 1973, became chancellor of Coventry University between 1995 and 2007 and retired from the House of Lords in 2017.
His family were from Cheshire and had farmed for several generations, with Plumb taking over the running of his father’s largely dairy farm at Coleshill, Warwickshire, after his death in 1952.
Batters said: “He was a truly remarkable man. He was committed, fearless and the most charming man you could meet. His loss will be deeply felt and our sympathies are with his family at this sad time.”
The science minister, George Freeman, tweeted that Plumb was a “great man”, adding it was “a pleasure and privilege to have worked with and got to know him in the 90s”.