Accolades flow as MPs pay tribute to giant of Parliament
ROBIN Cook, the late former foreign secretary, was yesterday hailed as "the greatest parliamentarian of his generation" at a Westminster memorial service.
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his wife, Cherie, led the congregation of more than 850 at St Margaret's, Westminster, the MPs' church, to pay tribute to the man who resigned from the Cabinet over the war in Iraq.
Mr Cook, 59, the former Livingston MP, died after collapsing while walking with his wife, Gaynor, in the Highlands on 6 August.
The congregation included many members of the Cabinet, the outgoing Opposition leader, Michael Howard, Lord Kinnock, the former Labour Party leader and Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state.
In a moving and candid address, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, acknowledged publicly that there had been a rift between the two men, which he regretted.
He described Mr Cook as "the greatest parliamentarian of his generation".
Passages were read by one of Mr Cook's sons, Peter, from some of the columns Mr Cook wrote in the Guardian and London's Evening Standard newspapers.
In one of them, which appeared on 8 July, the day after the terrorist attacks in London, Mr Cook wrote: "The war against terrorism will not be won by military means alone."
The late MP's other son, Chris, read Philip Larkin's poem At Grass.
The Prime Minister read one of the lessons, from St Luke, while Mr Cook's widow, Gaynor, read another from the Old Testament Book of Micah.
The Rev Robert Wright, Canon of Westminster, described Mr Cook as "a principled politician and perhaps one of the most clever and creative people in British politics".
He said Mr Cook was "a man with a robust and direct public persona", and a kind and thoughtful person who was driven by a profound sense of duty for humanity and concern for people.
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