JACK Straw spoke fondly last night of his “lioness” mother who died at the weekend, aged 92.

Joan Ormston passed away after a heart attack in a nursing home, in Loughton, Essex, where she brought up the Blackburn MP, and his three brothers and two sisters, single-handedly on a council estate after his father left.

Mr Straw had seen her on Wednesday before she died on Saturday night.

Speaking from Hong Kong, en route on a long-arranged visit to China, Mr Straw said: “My mother was my inspiration and driving force. As I said in my autobiography, she was a lioness of a woman. She was very, very important to me. Everything I achieved was down to her. I could have done none of it without her, and her backing.

“Thankfully, she died quickly, and peacefully, after a heart attack.

“She was very fit and healthy until she was 90, and it is only in the last two years she has suffered. I saw her on Wednesday and she seemed fine, although she said she was feeling lonely.

“My mother was a wonderful woman and we will all miss her greatly.

“She was living proof how courage and hard work could overcome adversity.

“She lived a very full life, and I am immensely proud of her.

“My sister Helen is making the funeral arrangements, and I shall be back for that.”

Rossendale and Darwen Tory MP Jake Berry said: “I know his mother was very important to Jack and I feel for him.

“I am sure all the people of Blackburn with Darwen will join me in sending their cond-olences to him and his family at this difficult time.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Kate Hollern said: “By all accounts Jack’s mother was a wonderful woman.

“I know Jack and his family will miss her greatly and I send my condolences to them all. ”

Former Rossendale and Darwen MP Janet Anderson, who worked for Mr Straw as a personal assistant before being elected, said: “I think Joan was very important to Jack. She was an amazing woman, and the reason Jack achieved what he did.

“She brought up her children single-handedly and was very political – something she passed on to him. She was very small and unassuming, but never-theless a very remarkable and powerful woman.”