I was really sad to hear of the death, at 90 years of age, of Shirley Williams.

Shirley was a sincere believer in the European Union, and in Britain’s place at the heart of Europe. She sacrificed her career in the Labour Party because of her belief in this cause.

She continued to be active in European causes in the Social Democrat and Liberal Democrat parties.

She was one of the least cynical people I ever met.

She was warm hearted, and interested in others, and tireless in her pursuit of justice.

I met her a number of times, when we were both in ministerial office, in the house of mutual friends, and at public events.

I was  due to campaign with her, in 2016, to persuade the British people to stay in the European Union. We were to speak together in Birmingham at a pro Remain meeting on 16 June 2016, and had both arrived in the city for the meeting, when the news came through that Jo Cox, a young Labour MP, had been murdered while campaigning for Remain in her constituency.

As a result of this shocking event, all meetings in the referendum campaign were called off that night.

On that occasion, and on many others, I was impressed by Shirley Williams’ deep sincerity and optimism, qualities of the first importance in political life.

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