On the death of Lord Henry Plumb, Honorary President of the Former Members’ Association of the European Parliament (FMA) and former President of the European Parliament (1987-1989), FMA President Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament (2007-2009), writes:
“With Lord Plumb, the only British President of the Parliament, we lose a British patriot and passionate European. With a shrewd combination of enthusiasm and British pragmatism, Henry Plumb always advocated a strong United Kingdom in a strong European Union. As a Member of the European Parliament (from 1979, the first direct election, until 1999), Henry Plumb served Europe in the best sense of the word in all his roles – President of the European Parliament, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Parliamentary leader of the European Democrats in the European Parliament, Chair of the Joint Assembly of the Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union (ACP-EU) and many other roles. We should not forget his invitation to Pope John Paul II, who spoke at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 1988. It was a time of great hope for a free Europe: on 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and the division of Europe was overcome.
Henry Plumb was a confident partner of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He was a determined, courageous and far-sighted advocate of strengthening the European Parliament in its relations with governments.
Henry Plumb became the first FMA President in December 2001 and led it until May 2006, since when he has been Honorary President. This established the tradition that the FMA President should be a former President of the European Parliament on each occasion, and for four years.
Brexit deeply shook Henry Plumb. However, it was a satisfaction for him to support the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the House of Lords in the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Henry Plumb was one of the most committed politicians, which will always mark him out as a great Briton and a great European.
If the United Kingdom had rejected the Lisbon Treaty, it would not be the legal and political basis of the European Union today. Henry Plumb’s commitment to the Lisbon Treaty is therefore also his legacy for our European future.
Henry Plumb passed away at the ripe old age of 97. We may recall his remark from his younger years: “I was born a Briton, and I will die a European.”
As we now bid farewell to this extraordinary personality, we also remember his great wife Marjorie, who passed away a few years ago, always supporting her husband and accompanying him on many journeys. On a personal note, I may say that it was a privilege for me to have been on friendly terms with both of them. I had the privilege of speaking with Henry Plumb shortly before his death. For the 20th FMA anniversary, he sent us a video message with his good wishes and greetings. Henry Plumb was ennobled with the title ‘Lord’. He was a great person whose positive charisma and humour conveyed hope and confidence. Henry Plumb was a role model to many, including myself. So we keep him in good and grateful memory.”
President of the FMA and
Former President of the European Parliament
|About the FMA
Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering is the current President of the European Parliament Former Members Association. He is a German politician (CDU) and was the only Member of the European Parliament who has served continuously from the first direct election in 1979 until July 1st 2014 – with 35 years of uninterrupted membership. He held a number of leading positions in the EP and European People’s Party throughout his political career. From 2007 until 2009 he was President of the European Parliament. He initiated the House of European History which was opened in Brussels in May 2017.
The FMA is involved in a wide range of activities including seminars, the spreading of information about the European Parliament and EU policies, and promoting political dialogue and democracy building. In addition to that, FMA members are engaged in Democracy Support and Election Observation missions as well as fostering the co-operation with universities by participating pro-bono in the educational FMA programme “EP to Campus”.