May hails ‘kindness and humour’ of V-sign peer Trumpington after her death at 96

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Theresa May has paid tribute to Baroness Trumpington after her death at the age of 96, describing the Tory peer as a “formidable figure in British politics”.

The Prime Minister said the “kindness and humour” of the former Bletchley Park code-breaker, famed for flicking two fingers at a colleague during a debate, would be sorely missed.

Lady Trumpington – previously Jean Barker – was a Conservative peer who retired from the House of Lords last year and was celebrated as one of Parliament’s most colourful characters.

Mrs May said: “Jean enjoyed a truly extraordinary career, from her work in intelligence at Bletchley Park during the Second World War to her decades of public service in local and national government, and in Parliament.

“She was a formidable figure in British politics and her kindness and humour will be sorely missed.”

Tributes came from across the political spectrum after Lady Trumpington’s son, Adam Barker, announced on Monday afternoon that the former Conservative minister died.

At the start of business in the Lords, the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, paid tribute to Lady Trumpington to loud cheers of support from all sides.

“I regret to inform the House of the death of our much loved colleague and friend Baroness Trumpington,” he said.

“On behalf of the House I extend our condolences to her family and friends.”

Former prime minister David Cameron tweeted: “So very sad to hear that Baroness Trumpington has passed away.

“She was one of a kind – they simply don’t make politicians like that anymore.

“She will be sorely missed in Westminster but long remembered for her outstanding ability and great humour. RIP Trumpers.”

Fellow Tory peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said she was “a huge inspiration”.

She tweeted: “She always had time to deliver a good telling off, give advice or pay a compliment. I had the privilege of being at the receiving end of all three!”

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood said her passing was “so sad… But what a life”.

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said she was “admirable, decent and unique”, while Labour MP Kevin Brennan expressed his “admiration for a remarkable woman”.

Lady Trumpington spent 37 years as a Conservative peer and had spells as a minister and a government whip.

She shot to fame in 2011 when she was caught on camera in the Lords chamber flicking a V-sign at Lord King over what she perceived as a rude remark about her age.

Lord King told the Press Association: “She was a good friend. It’s very sad. But, she had a terrific innings and an amazing life.

“She made me much more famous by her famous joke – the famous two-fingered salute.”

During the Second World War, she was a “Land Girl” for David Lloyd George before working in naval intelligence at the Bletchley Park code-breaking headquarters.

Before entering Parliament, Lady Trumpington was a Cambridge councillor, rising to become mayor in 1971.

She took her seat in the Lords in 1980 and was a government whip and minister during several periods in the 1980s and 90s.

Born Jean Alys Campbell-Harris on October 23 1922, she married Alan Barker after returning to England following a spell in the US.

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