Nigel Lawson, who served as the UK Treasury chief under Margaret Thatcher, and embraced Britain’s exit from the European Union, passed away at 91 years old. He was considered a “fearless and original flame of free-market Conservatism” by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who also described Lawson as a “tax-cutter and simplifier who helped transform the economic landscape and helped millions of British people achieve their dreams”.
Born in 1932, Lawson attended seven primary schools during World War II, before going to Christ Church Oxford, and later serving in the Royal Navy. His career in journalism included working for the Financial Times, the Sunday Telegraph, and the BBC. He had an unsuccessful try at being elected in 1966, but ultimately won four years later, to represent the central Engish constituency of Blaby, a position he held until 1992.
During Thatcher’s first term as Prime Minister, Lawson was appointed the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and two years later, he moved up the ranks to become the Energy Secretary, where he championed the Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Bill, a major privatization measure. In 1983, he became the UK’s Treasury Chief and abolished the basic rate of tax while modernizing financial markets; commonly referred to as the ‘Big Bang of Deregulation’.
Nigel Lawson’s actions as Treasury Chief continue to be recognized and praised for their impact on the liberalisation of the UK economy and the strengthening of London’s position as an international financial hub. However, he faced criticism for his late stance on Brexit and for his skepticism about climate change.
He was the father of celebrity food writer Nigella Lawson, from his first marriage to Vanessa Salmon, which ended in 1980. He then married Therese Maclear, a former Commons library researcher, who survives him today.