U.K. prime minister’s father dies while on vacation

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LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron‘s father died in France on Wednesday after suffering a stroke while on vacation, the leader’s office said.

The prime minister flew to a hospital in Toulon in southern France to be at his 77-year-old father’s side, spokesman Steve Field told reporters.

“It is with deep regret we can confirm that Ian Cameron died earlier this afternoon. He passed away shortly after the prime minister arrived at the hospital in France where he was undergoing treatment,” David Cameron’s office said in a statement.

It said Ian Cameron had suffered “a stroke and heart complications while on holiday.”

Mr. Field said David Cameron planned to stay in France overnight but remained in charge of British affairs.

The elder Mr. Cameron, a retired stockbroker, previously had both of his legs amputated and used a wheelchair.

In an interview before winning Britain’s election in May, David Cameron described his father’s refusal to allow his disability to impede his life.

“My father is a huge hero figure for me. He’s an amazingly brave man because he was born with no heels — quite a disability,” David Cameron told ITV television. “I think I got my sense of optimism from him.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy provided a helicopter to transport the prime minister from a French airport to the hospital as he rushed from London to see his father, Mr. Field said.

An official in Mr. Sarkozy’s office confirmed the president had offered the prime minister lodging at the Fort de Bregancon, a former fortress jutting out from the shore of the French Riviera that is used as a holiday retreat by French presidents. The official could not be named according to presidential policy.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero sent a telegram to David Cameron expressing his “deepest condolences.”

The prime minister canceled meetings and an appearance to answer questions from lawmakers to travel to France with his brother and other family members. His wife and children stayed home.

The British leader had just returned to work Tuesday following the birth of his fourth child, Florence Rose Endellion Cameron, on Aug. 24.

David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, have two other children, Elwen and Nancy. Their elder son, Ivan, who had epilepsy and cerebral palsy, died last year aged 6.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stood in for the 43-year-old prime minister at the House of Commons questions session, the weekly showdown that offers lawmakers the chance to directly address the prime minister.

Associated Press writer Jenny Barchfield in Paris contributed to this report. Claude Paris reported from Toulon, France.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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