Colorful Ex-Lawmaker Critchley Dies
LONDON (AP) _ Outspoken former lawmaker Sir Julian Critchley, who clashed with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over Europe and eventually left the Conservative Party because he felt it was too anti-European, has died, his son said Sunday. He was 69.
Joshua Critchley said his father died in a hospital Saturday morning. He had been suffering from bone and prostate cancer and more recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Critchley, who had represented Aldershot in southern England for the Conservative Party since 1964, quit Parliament before the last national elections in 1997, which saw Tony Blair’s Labor Party sweep the Tories from power after 18 years.
Critchley openly confessed his disappointment at never achieving ministerial rank. But as a keen supporter of European integration, he was often at odds with then prime minister Thatcher’s euro-skeptic stance, describing her on one occasion as a ``great she-elephant.″
In 1990, he supported former defense secretary Michael Heseltine’s bid to wrest leadership of the Conservative Party from Thatcher. Heseltine failed _ placing Critchley even more firmly on the margins of power _ but the leadership contest fatally weakened Thatcher and the party ousted her as prime minister and party leader later that year.
In 1999 elections for the European Parliament, Critchley’s rift with party bosses widened when he supported several unofficial, pro-Europe Tory candidates. He left the party soon afterward.
He was knighted in 1995 by Thatchers’ successor, John Major.
Critchley is survived by his wife, Heather, three daughters and a son.