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Monday, October 26, 1998 Published at 12:51 GMT


Nicholas Budgen: An arch Euro-sceptic

Nicholas Budgen with rebel Tory MPs in 1995

Nicholas Budgen was one of a group of arch Euro-sceptic Tory MPs which proved such a thorn in the side of John Major's government.

Born in 1937, he was educated at St Edward's School, Oxford and Corpus Christi, Cambridge. He practiced as a barrister and stood unsuccessfully for Parliament at the 1970 General Election.

[ image: Nicholas Budgen campaigning in 1974]
Nicholas Budgen campaigning in 1974
Elected in 1974, he took over the Wolverhampton South West seat vacated by another Tory maverick, Enoch Powell.

Initially, Nicholas Budgen toed the party line, becoming a junior Whip in the Thatcher government, but by the early 1990s he had become increasingly disillusioned by what he saw as a continual move to European federalism.

Central to this process was the 1992 Maastricht Treaty seen as paving the way for a single European currency. It was this, above all, which crystallised Tory opposition to Europe.

Unrepentant rebel

A series of backbench rebellions a year later drove the government to call a confidence vote to re-establish its authority. Throughout all of this, Nicholas Budgen was an unrepentant rebel.

At the time, he insisted, "It would be my general feeling that the transference of power to Europe was so important a matter as to require a vote against any organisation and any party that wished to transfer that power."

[ image: He was an outspoken Euro-sceptic]
He was an outspoken Euro-sceptic
In 1995, Mr Budgen was an outspoken supporter of John Redwood during his leadership challenge.

The same year, after defying the government again, he became one of the 'whipless' rebels: temporarily excluded from the parliamentary party, but a graphic demonstration of the depth of Tory divisions on Europe.

Another cause close to his heart was Northern Ireland. He found himself at odds with John Major over the 1993 Downing Street Declaration.

Staunch Unionist

He argued strongly that the British concession to having "no selfish economic or strategic interest" in Northern Ireland should never have been made.

During last year's General Election he drew further controversy by criticising the level of immigration. Playing what some saw as the race card failed to prevent him from losing his seat in the Labour landslide.

Nicholas Budgen was a Tory of the old school, thoughtful and courteous, with an almost bookish manner, but his deep concerns about Europe were argued with vigour and passion.

He leaves a wife, Madelaine, and two children.

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