Britain's former Prime Minister Edward Heath, left, seen in this Oct. 29, 1971 file photo, died Sunday July 17, 2005
Former British Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath, who ushered Britain into what is now the European Union, has died.

A Heath spokesman says he died Sunday at his home in Salisbury, England just one week after celebrating his 89th birthday. No cause of death was announced.

An Oxford-educated journalist and banker, Mr. Heath was first elected as a Conservative member of Parliament in 1950.

He rose up through party ranks to become Conservative leader in 1965 and prime minister five years later.

In 1973, he overcame years of opposition by many Britons to successfully negotiate British membership into the European Community, the predecessor to the European Union.

But a poor economy, high unemployment, and a series of disastrous strikes led to his party's defeat to the Labor Party in a 1974 election. He was succeeded as prime minister by Harold Wilson.

Mr. Heath remained  a Member of Parliament until 2001.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.