The brothers were also well known in the Channel Islands after purchasing Brecqhou in 1993 and building a neo-Gothic mansion.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to the Daily Telegraph’s joint owner Sir David, who has died aged 86 after a short illness.
Mr Johnson, who worked as a columnist for the paper, tweeted: ‘Farewell with respect and admiration to Sir David Barclay who rescued a great newspaper, created many thousands of jobs across the UK and who believed passionately in the independence of this country and what it could achieve.’
The Daily Telegraph said the Barclay brothers ‘operated as one’ throughout their business career, while steadfastly avoiding personal publicity and media scrutiny.
They turned to media ownership in 1992 by buying weekly newspaper The European, which closed in 1998, while they also owned The Scotsman from 1995 to 2005.
Along with his identical twin Sir Frederick, Sir David built a vast business empire which began with hotels and expanded to include shipping, retailing and, since 2004, ownership of Telegraph Media Group.