Former Labour MP Richard Caborn says Denis Healey helped to turn the country’s economy around.
A defining moment of his career as chancellor came when he applied for an emergency loan from the global Monetary Fund in an effort to save the pound from collapse.
Friends said he was proud of his record as defence secretary under Harold Wilson in the 1960s, and is credited with not sending British troops to Vietnam.
He served with the Royal Engineers during the Second World War and was made an MBE in 1945, joining the Labour Party shortly after leaving the service.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Very sorry to hear that Denis Healey has died”.
Born in Mottingham, then in Kent, he moved with his family to Yorkshire and attended Bradford Grammar School before going on to study at Oxford University, where he met the future Conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath.
“A lifelong socialist and anti-Fascist, his military service in World War two took him to the Anzio beach-head, but having lived through the horrors of war he remained a firm campaigner for peaceful resolutions, once telling the BBC that he would never authorise the use of nuclear weapons”.
‘By all accounts he was a hugely entertaining man personally – and author of tremendously readable and informative books.
Yvette Cooper added: “So very sad Denis Healey has died – a lovely man with fabulous sense of mischief & humour, as well as a great politician & Labour man”. We should mourn with his family and give thanks for all he gave our country’.
Chancellor George Osborne was among the first to pay tribute. A great man and a genuine public servant has left us.
Mr Blair said: “Denis Healey was a great champion for social justice, in and out of Government, a stalwart of the Labour Party, a true patriot who fought for and cared deeply about his country and an extraordinary and vibrant character. Condolences to his family”.
His famous quotes have included referring to Margaret Thatcher as “that bloody woman” and on John Prescott “He has the face of a man who clubs baby seals.”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “a Labour giant”. All of us in the Labour Party owe him a huge debt. One of the greats of the Labour movement.
Daily Mirror associate editor Kevin Maguire wrote: “RIP Denis Healey, 98”.