File photo dated 03/06/2015 of Gerald Kaufman in the House of Commons. The Labour MP for Manchester Gorton and Father of The House of Commons, has died aged 86, a family spokesman said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday February 26, 2017. See PA story DEATH Kaufman. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Sir Gerald Kaufman, Father of the House of Commons, has died at the age of 86 (Picture: PA)

Jeremy Corbyn has led tributes to the oldest serving MP, Sir Gerald Kaufman, who has died at 86.

The Labour leader described the Father of the House of Commons as an ‘iconic and irascible’ figure with ‘dandy clothes’ who ‘loved life and politics’.

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The Labour MP for Manchester Gorton’s family saidd he died on Sunday evening after battling a long-term illness.

Sir Gerald was first elected as Manchester Ardwick MP in 1970 before becoming Manchester Gorton MP after constituency boundary changes in 1983 until his death.

His family announced his death ‘with great sadness’, saying: ‘Sir Gerald had been suffering from a long-term illness for several months, but, in that time, remained firmly committed to, and focused on, the activities and wellbeing of his beloved constituency, which he had served since first elected in 1970.

File photo dated 09/03/2011 of Gerald Kaufman. The Labour MP for Manchester Gorton and Father of The House of Commons, has died aged 86, a family spokesman said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday February 26, 2017. See PA story DEATH Kaufman. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire
(Picture: PA)

‘Sir Gerald dedicated his life to serving those who he believed would benefit most from a Labour government and Labour values in action.

‘He believed that policy and principle without power were simply not enough to deliver the better life that he fought for on behalf of his constituents for almost 50 years.

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‘Though Sir Gerald had many friends and supporters in Manchester and across the world from his work on many campaigns and causes, he was in essence a private man.

‘There will be a further opportunity for those who wish to pay tribute to the contribution of this great socialist and parliamentarian in due course.

‘For now, his family request that his dignity and integrity be honoured through respectful reflection.’

File photo dated 22/03/2000 of Gerald Kaufman, during a press conference at the House of Commons, London. The Labour MP for Manchester Gorton and Father of The House of Commons, has died aged 86, a family spokesman said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday February 26, 2017. See PA story DEATH Kaufman. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire
(Picture: PA)

Mr Corbyn paid tribute to his ‘constant’ friend, saying: ‘I’m very sad at the passing of Sir Gerald Kaufman MP.

‘An iconic and irascible figure in the Labour Party, Gerald worked with Harold Wilson when he was Prime Minister in the 1960s and became a Labour MP in 1970.

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‘Gerald was always a prominent figure in the party and in Parliament, with his dandy clothes and wonderful demeanour in speaking.

‘Gerald came from a proud Jewish background. He always wanted to bring peace to the Middle East and it was my pleasure to travel with him to many countries.

‘I last saw him in his lovely flat in St John’s Wood in London, surrounded by film posters and a library of the film world.

‘He loved life and politics. I will deeply miss him, both for his political commitment and constant friendship.’