Veteran journalist Lord "Bill" Deedes has died aged 94.
Lord Deedes received a knighthood in 1999
Lord Deedes was the only man to have edited a national newspaper - the Telegraph - and been in Cabinet.
He spent most of his life writing for national newspapers and became known as the "Grand Old Man of Fleet Street", writing his final column on 3 August.
He died at his home in Kent after a short illness. Gordon Brown said Britain owed a "huge debt of gratitude" for Lord Deedes' public service.
"He started writing as a professional journalist more than 76 years ago and few have served journalism and the British people for so long at such a high level of distinction and with such a popular following," the prime minister said.
The young Bill Deedes was the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh's infamous war reporter William Boot in the novel Scoop.
In addition to being the model for Waugh's Scoop, he also achieved fame outside Fleet Street as "Dear Bill", addressee of the "Denis Thatcher" fortnightly letter in Private Eye.
He was made a life peer in 1986, the same year he handed the editorship of the Daily Telegraph to Max Hastings after 12 years at the helm.
Deedes was still an active journalist in his 90s, making visits to war-torn places like Ethiopia and Sudan, and writing a column in the Daily Telegraph.
Baroness Thatcher, who had known him for more than 50 years, told the Telegraph: "Bill was a dear friend who will be greatly missed. He had a uniquely distinguished career in politics and journalism.
"He managed to appeal to new generations just as effectively as he did to earlier ones. I am deeply sorry at his passing."
Tory leader David Cameron said Deedes had done "enough in his time to fill at least three lifetimes".
He added: "Listening to him, whether about politics, journalism, or events on the other side of the world, he was always a source of both wisdom and entertainment.
"It's a cliché to say 'we will not look upon his like again', but I suspect with the passing of Bill it is true."
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "Bill Deedes was held in great affection by many people who never met him face to face.
"He distinguished himself both as a politician and as a journalist."
Aidan Barclay, chairman of the Telegraph Media Group, said: "Bill Deedes was a giant among men, a towering figure in journalism, an icon in British politics and a humanitarian to his very core.
"He was part of the fabric of the Telegraph. In his passing we have lost part of ourselves. We will not see his like again. Our thoughts are with his family and his legion of friends."