By a Newsnet reporter
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died after suffering a stroke, she had been in ill health for some years previously.
In an announcement, a spokesman for the Thatcher family said: “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning.”
A grocer’s daughter from Grantham in Lincolnshire, Mrs Thatcher rose to the top of the Conservative party following the toppling of Edward Heath. She went on to become perhaps the most divisive UK politician in the post-war era and presided over soaring unemployment and the death of traditional heavy industry.
Mrs Thatcher, who later became Baroness Thatcher, won three consecutive General Elections for the Conservatives in the late 70s and 1980s and reshaped British politics in a way whose effects are still being felt. The first to introduce privatisation, she once claimed that her greatest legacy was New Labour.
Deeply unpopular in Scotland, Mrs Thatcher refused to countenance Scottish devolution. In a speech to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1988, the so-called ‘sermon on the Mound’, she shocked those attending by announcing that “there is no such thing as society”, and put forward the case that her view of capitalism and the free market was justified by Christian theology.
The Queen said she was sad to hear the news of Thatcher’s death and sent a message of sympathy to her family.
Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement:
“It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lady Thatcher. We have lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.”
Mr Cameron has cut short a visit to European capitals in order to attend the funeral. It has been announced that Mrs Thatcher will be given a special ceremonial funeral similar to those accorded to Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.
In a statement, a Downing St spokesperson said:
“Downing Street can announce that, with The Queen’s consent, Lady Thatcher will receive a Ceremonial funeral with military honours. The service will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral.”
The Prime Minister will make an official statement later this afternoon.