Lord Jenkins, who as one of the “Gang of Four” broke away from Labour to found the Social Democratic Party, collapsed at his home in East Hendred, near Didcot, Oxfordshire, at around 9am yesterday. His wife Jennifer and their children Edward, Charles and Cynthia, said they were “very sad” at his sudden death.
Friends who had seen him recently said he had suffered recurring heart trouble and had recently come out of hospital.
The prime minister, his predecessors Sir Edward Heath and Lord Callaghan, and former SDP colleagues paid tribute to Lord Jenkins’ towering political stature, his biographical work of Winston Churchill and his warm friendship.
Mr Blair, a political ally of the elder statesman as well as a close friend, said: “I will miss him deeply.
“Roy Jenkins was one of the most remarkable people ever to grace British politics.
“His influence on it is as great as many who held the office of prime minister.”