ALTRINCHAM and Sale West MP Graham Brady has paid a moving tribute to his predecessor, Sir Fergus Montgomery, who has died aged 85.

Sir Fergus was the constituency MP for 23 years, from October 1974 to 1997, when he retired and was succeeded by Graham Brady.

Before that he represented Newcastle Upon Tyne East and Brierley Hill in the West Midlands. He remains the only Conservative ever to have represented Newcastle East.

He was a friend and staunch ally of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, serving as her Parliamentary private secretary (PPS) when she was secretary of state for education, and then leader of the opposition.

Mr Brady said of his predecessor: “‘Fergus was loyal, funny and engaging - a real character of British politics with many friends on both sides of the Commons.

“As well as being a hard-working MP for Altrincham and Sale, he was full of fun and enjoyed the cut and thrust of politics.

“He had been Margaret Thatcher’s PPS when she was education secretary and chaired the committee of selection; an extremely important role, yet there was not a hint of pomposity about him.

“Fergus was a lovely man and always had a tale to share or a joke to tell. He will be sorely missed.

“Victoria and I send our love and best wishes to his loving wife Joyce, who has cared for him so attentively, especially over the last few difficult years.”

Cllr Matt Colledge, the leader of Trafford Council and the Conservative group, said: “Sir Fergus will be remembered for his wit and warmth as well as his dedication to the Altrincham and Sale constituency, which he served for 23 years.

“He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with Lady Joyce and her family at this time.”

He is survived by his wife, Lady Joyce.