Britain’s oldest serving MP and a veteran lawmaker for the opposition Labour party, Gerald Kaufman, died on Sunday at the age of 86, his family announced.

Kaufman died after several months suffering from an undisclosed illness.

“Sir Gerald dedicated his life to serving those who he believed would benefit most from a Labour government and Labour values in action,” his family said in a statement.

The octogenarian first stepped into the House of Commons in 1970 and has represented his constituents in Manchester, north-west England, ever since.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn paid tribute to Kaufman, whom he described as “an iconic and irascible figure” within the party.

“He loved life and politics. I will deeply miss him, both for his political commitment and constant friendship,” Corbyn said.

Kaufman was one of the few prominent Jewish politicians in Britain and was a well-known critic of Israel, calling for sanctions against the country over its treatment of Palestinians.

During his time in parliament, he saw nine prime minister take the reins of power.

When Kaufman was most recently re-elected, in 2015, he was 64 years older than the youngest parliamentarian, Mhairi Black of the Scottish National Party who was then just 20.