Edward Heath, the former British prime minister who led the country into the European Common Market, has died at the age of 89. The son of a carpenter and housekeeper, he overcame his humble beginnings to study at Oxford. Visits to Spain during the Civil War and Nazi Germany in the 1930s convinced him that Europe needed to be united and peaceful.
Elected Conservative prime minister in 1970, his greatest achievement was negotiating the UK’s entry into what would become the European Union.
His tenure was shortlived however. With economic problems gripping the country, Heath was out of Downing Street by 1974. His post-leadership years were marked by a bitter feud with Margaret Thatcher, Heath accusing her in 1989 of being patronising and self-serving. In 1992 he was knighted and was a highly respected voice in parliament until retiring from public life in 2001. Heath never married. His lifelong passions were sailing and music.