Sir Jeremy Heywood, the former head of the British civil service, dies aged 56

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Sir Jeremy Heywood, the former head of the British civil service, dies aged 56

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the former head of the British civil service, and one of the most influential figures in UK politics in recent years, has died aged 56 after a battle with cancer.

Heywood’s death was announced on Sunday morning in a statement from Number 10 Downing Street. Prime Minister Theresa May described his death as “extremely sad.”

“This is extremely sad news and all of my thoughts are with Jeremy’s family and friends,” the prime minister said.

“He worked tirelessly to serve our country in the finest traditions of the Civil Service and he is a huge loss to British public life,” she added.

“Jeremy will be sorely missed and I send my deepest condolences to Suzanne and the children and to all his family and many friends.”

Heywood was the UK’s cabinet secretary from 2012 until 2018 and head of the civil service between 2014 and 2018. He had stepped down from his post as civil service chief just over a week ago, having already been on a leave of absence for cancer treatment since June.

He served under four separate prime ministers, stretching back to his time as principal private secretary for Tony Blair. He was Gordon Brown’s chief of staff, and served as Downing Street permanent secretary to David Cameron, before taking the position of cabinet secretary in 2012.

Tributes to Heywood have begun to pour in, with health secretary Matt Hancock describing him as “not just the foremost Civil Servant of his generation … but a thoroughly decent and good man too.”

“We will miss him more than we can say, and we will be poorer without his advice,” Sir Mark Sedwill, Heywood’s successor, said.

“He was an amazing man, brilliant civil servant and dedicated to our country. It was a privilege to work with him,” former Prime Minister David Cameron said.

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