A former Birmingham Conservative MP who was known as one of the most colourful and outspoken politicians of the 1980s has died, aged 73.

Sir Anthony Beaumont Dark (pictured), who was also a former stockbroker in the city, represented Selly Oak between 1979 and 1992 and became one of best known figures of the Thatcher era.

The Birmingham-born politician, who was also a distinguished councillor in his home city, had held public office from when he was 23 until he was defeated by Dr Lynne Jones at the 1992 General Election.

He once said that he missed out on an appointment to Margaret Thatcher's cabinet because of his controversial views - which tended to go against the party line if the Government's plans were not beneficial to Birmingham.

Sir Anthony and the Iron Lady had mutual respect for each other, but the proud Brummie would be the first to admit that his razor-sharp tongue had stunted his career aspirations.

A conversation the pair had about the Poll Tax ended with one of Sir Anthony's trademark quips.

"Tony, this will be our flagship", said the Prime Minister.

"They said that about the Titanic," came the response.

Sir Anthony would comment on just about every subject.

In 1978, as a councillor on West Midlands County Council's finance committee, he caused a row after declaring he was baffled by new metric measurements.

He threatened to boycott reports unless centimetres and metres were replaced with traditional feet and inches.

In his first year as an MP he approached the Prime Minister during the storm surrounding #70 a week pay rises for council chief executives. He wanted changes to the way top local government officers' salaries were awarded.

Sir Anthony was involved in all the major debates of the 1980s and vented his fury on issues as diverse as the sale of 'Rambo' knives, teenage gambling and a raunchy pop concert performed by the Pet Shop Boys at the National Exhibition Centre.

He was also not afraid to wade into highly-controversial issues that many of his peers steered away from.

In 1989, he urged the Government to persuade the Princess Royal against visiting South American cities controlled by Bolivian drug barons. He feared Princess Anne could have been kidnapped or assassinated.

Sir Anthony also backed a couple who lived in his Selly Oak constituency who declared their intention to kill each other if they became seriously ill.

He also called for police officers from other forces to be drafted in to help the West Midland Police inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster. Carried out by more than 500 West Midlands officers, it cost #1 million for local ratepayers.

Sir Anthony's campaign against standards and waste in public life continued in his later life. Some years after he left the Commons he told The Birmingham Post of his concern about the lack of public spirit from modern day elected representatives.

He said: "When I was a councillor we didn't get paid a penny. It was a voluntary public service and we were honoured to be elected to the post. But since those days, I have watched with alarm at how the city council has gone downhill."

Sir Anthony also objected to a Commons motion calling for an increase in MPs' salaries in 1994. He claimed many of the MPs who signed the motion calling for the pay review "would not be able to earn a fiver in the outside world".

Sir Anthony also spoke out at the release of IRA terrorist Patrick Magee, who bombed Brighton's Grand Hotel in 1984 during the Conservative Party Conference, calling him an "evil dedicated killer".

During his later life Sir Anthony withdrew into financial consultancy and afterdinner speaking.

He said following his election defeat that he would not have sought a way back into politics, even if he was offered a safe seat at a by-election.

"I never thought I would leave footprints in the sands of time. The only people who really do that are the Churchills and Hitlers of this world. The great men and the great villains.

"I have never been one of those who thought they were irreplaceable. There is life beyond Parliament. I thought I would have dreadful withdrawal symptoms, but I am having rather a good time."

Sir Anthony's son Nick said he spoke to his father on Friday morning, two days before he died.

"He told me if he was given the chance again he would have done everything exactly the same," he said.

Sir Anthony leaves a son, a daughter, four grandsons and one granddaughter.

He is survived by his wife Sheelagh.

A memorial service will take place at Birmingham Cathedral in May.