Brittan, who became one of the big political figures of the Thatcher era, was first elected to parliament for the Conservatives in Cleveland and Whitby in 1974, and then for Richmond in Yorkshire in 1986.
After being elected, Brittan held many key political roles relating to business and finance. He was chief secretary to the Treasury between 1981 and 1983, before becoming home secretary and then trade and industry secretary in 1985. Brittan resigned from the cabinet due to the Westland affair in 1986.
Knighted in 1989, Lord Brittan of Spennithorne became an EU commissioner, holding roles with responsibility for competition, trade, and external affairs. A young Nick Clegg served in his office in Brussels.
In recent years, Brittan had been contesting allegations by late Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens that he covered up a dossier over alleged high-profile paedophiles, allegations Brittan always denied.
In a statement his family said they “salute his extraordinary commitment to British public life as a member of Parliament, minister, Cabinet minister, European Commissioner and peer”, adding “we shall miss him enormously."