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Glenys Kinnock, former minister, MEP and wife of ex-Labour leader, dies aged 79

Baroness Kinnock has died at 79
Baroness Kinnock has died at 79 - Jimmy Gaston/Jimmy Gaston

Baroness Glenys Kinnock of Holyhead, the former minister, MEP and wife of ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock, has died at the age of 79.

In a statement, her family said: “It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the death of Glenys Kinnock. Glenys died peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning, at home in London.

“She was the beloved wife and life partner of Neil, the cherished mother of Steve and Rachel and an adored grandmother. Neil was with her in her final moments. They had been married for 56 years.

“A proud democratic socialist, she campaigned, in Britain and internationally, for justice and against poverty all her life.”

Glenys and Neil Kinnock prepare to cast their votes in Pontllanfraith, Gwent
Glenys and Neil Kinnock prepare to cast their votes in Pontllanfraith, Gwent - Barry Batchelor/PA
Glenys Kinnock leaves her home on her way to a television interview in 1994
Glenys Kinnock leaves her home on her way to a television interview in 1994 - Paul Grover

Baroness Kinnock served as minister for Europe and minister for Africa and the United Nations under Gordon Brown’s Labour government between 2009 and 2010.

She had represented Wales in the European Parliament from 1994 until 2009, when she was appointed to the House of Lords.

Her family said: “Passionate to the end about education, she was a valued and respected schoolteacher before she began her own political career, as a member of the European Parliament, then being made a peer in the House of Lords from where she served as minister for three of the great passions of her life, Europe, Africa and the UN.

“She was a great friend to many people and causes, and was truly loved. Glenys endured Alzheimer’s after being diagnosed in 2017 and, as long as she could, sustained her merriment and endless capacity for love, never complaining, and with the innate courage with which she had confronted every challenge throughout her life.

“The family is of course devastated and and would ask that their privacy be respected. Funeral details will be communicated in due course.”

Baroness Kinnock visits the Krishnas Temple at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Hertsmere
Baroness Kinnock visits the Krishnas Temple at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Hertsmere, in 1992 - Eric Roberts

Among the first to pay tribute to Baroness Kinnock was Sir Keir Starmer, the current Labour leader, who described her as a “true fighter” for the party.

“On behalf of the whole Labour Party, I want to pay tribute to Glenys Kinnock on the sad news of her passing,” he said. “Glenys was a passionate lifelong campaigner for social justice at home and abroad.

“She supported Neil through his leadership and went on to have an impressive political career of her own as a member of the European Parliament, in the House of Lords and as a minister in the last Labour government, focused on Europe and Africa.

“Neil and Glenys had the most wonderful partnership, there for each other through thick and thin, with a love and commitment that was instantly obvious when you saw them together. As the family have detailed, in recent years that meant looking after Glenys as Alzheimer’s did its worst.

“But what we will all remember is Glenys as a true fighter for the Labour Party and the values of the Labour movement, a pioneering woman to whom we owe an enormous debt. My sincere condolences to Neil, Stephen, Rachel and all the family at this sad time.”

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