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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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In Remembrance of Our Greatest Peacetime Leader Margaret Thatcher: 13th October 1925 - 8th April 2013

Margaret-Thatcher-Union-Jack

Today marks the death of our greatest peacetime leader, Margaret Thatcher, a woman who defined British politics for more than a generation. Elected as the first female leader of any major political party in the UK in 1975, succeeding Edward Heath as Conservative Party leader, she would go on to win the 1979 general election which marked the beginning of 18 years of Conservative government, known as the 'Blue Years', of which Mrs Thatcher occupied Number 10 Downing Street for 11 and a half years.


Early Years

Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in Grantham on 13th October 1925 to parents, Alfred and Beatrice, her father was a local greengrocer in the small Lincolnshire market town and the Roberts family lived above the shop. Not only that, her father, although from a Liberal family was an independent councillor in Grantham and served as Mayor of the town between 1945 and 1946; he also held the position of alderman until 1952 following Labour winning control of the council for the first time in 1950. Alfred Roberts was also a Methodist preacher, and he brought up his two daughters, Margaret and Muriel, as strict Wesleyan Methodists; furthermore, Roberts held several respected positions in the local community including President of the Chamber of Trade and President of the Rotary.


Margaret was educated at the local grammar school after winning a scholarship, she served as Head Girl of Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School before studying chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford where she was successful in getting a scholarship but only after another candidate withdrew. In 1946 Roberts became President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, this was a continuation of her deep interest in politics which had stemmed from her father, she was inspired by the recently published 'Road to Serfdom' by Friedrich Hayek and followed her father's thinking that 'we are all Liberal at heart but it is now the Conservatives who represent the old Liberal views'. She graduated Oxford in 1947 after four years there with a second class bachelor's degree in chemistry, specialising in X-ray crystallography, this would make her the first and only, to date, Prime Minister with a degree in a science. Her tutor at Somerville, Dorothy Hodgkin would go on to win a Nobel Prize for Science in 1964 for her works on X-ray crystallography.


The Beginning of a Legendary Political Career

The young Oxford graduate attended her first Party Conference in 1948 in Llandudno in Wales, it was there that she first was made aware of the Vermin Club, a group of grassroots Conservatives who had formed as a response to the comments made by Nye Bevan, the then Minister for Health in Clement Attlee's government. Around this time, one of her friends was Chairman of Dartford Conservatives in Kent, and although she was working in Essex in Colchester, she approached them to be a parliamentary candidate. Even though she wasn't on the Party's approved candidates list, she was adopted as the parliamentary candidate for Dartford in late 1949 and it was at her celebratory dinner that she met Denis Thatcher, a businessman who had already been divorced and who was 11 years her senior and had served in the War in the Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery. In her memoirs 'Path to Power' she described her first impressions of her future husband as "not a very attractive creature – very reserved but quite nice'.


In preparation for the forthcoming general election in the spring of 1950, she moved to Dartford, whereby this time was on the Party's approved candidates list, and found employment at food chemist J. Lyons and Co. which developed and produced cakes, biscuits and ice cream, some stories claim that Thatcher was part of a team that developed soft serve or Mr Whippy ice cream although this has never been confirmed or disproven and she did not make any claims herself. At the time of the election in 1950, she was just 24 years old and was the youngest female candidate in the country for both the 1950 and 1951 general election. Although, she was unlikely to win the safe Labour seat of Dartford held by local football club Chairman, Norman Dodds, Dodds went on to be an MP until his death in 1965 and the Labour Party paid tribute to the former MP by naming their Northumberland HQ and Campaign Centre Norman Dodds House. In her autobiography, Thatcher described her opponent in the 1950 and 1951 general elections as "genuine and extremely chivalrous socialist of the old school, whom I was lucky to have as an opponent". Dodds invited her to lunch in the House of Commons just weeks after his successful election and he would have the greatest respect for her from then, including when she was elected to the House in 1959. She had managed to reduce Dodds' majority in Dartford as she had done what no other Tory had, she connected with the working class voters – this would be testament to winning several seats later in her career as Party leader. Dartford is now a safe Conservative seat held by Gareth Johnson with over 60pc of the vote and a near 30,000 majority.


Margaret and Denis married in 1951 at Wesley's Chapel in south London, a Methodist Church, although both her and Denis would later convert to Church of England. And it was two years later in 1953 when Margaret Thatcher qualified as a barrister, specialising in taxation which she practised at the bar until she gave birth, prematurely, to twins, Carol and Mark the same year. Thatcher was defeated in 1954 when she stood to be the Conservative candidate in the by-election in Orpington, losing out to Donald Sumner who went onto become a County Court Judge. She decided not to stand in the upcoming 1955 general election, instead devoting time to her twins, although she did begin to look for and apply to become the candidate for safe Conservative seats.


Margaret Thatcher, MP for Finchley

It was in 1958 when the sitting MP for Finchley in North London, John Crowder, a respected and senior member of the 1922 Committee, announced her would be standing down at the 1959 general election. She fought off Ian Fraser – who would go on to win Plymouth Sutton before losing that to future Foreign Secretary, the then Labour candidate David Owen - to win the nomination for Finchley which boasted a 13,000 Conservative majority. Her maiden speech in the House was in support of her private member's bill, a bill put forward by a backbench MP, the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act, 1960 which would require councils to hold their meetings in public, this was subsequently passed into law. She first went against the Conservative whip in 1961 when she supported birching as a form or judicial corporal punishment, a stance that the Party were very much against. Thatcher would privately support the death penalty but never sought to reintroduce it when she became PM in 1979.


In just two years of being an elected MP, Thatcher was awarded with a junior role in Harold Macmillan's government as Parliamentary under-Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, this made her the youngest woman in government and the first of the 1959 intake to be promoted. However, the Conservatives lost the 1964 general election to Harold Wilson's Labour Party and Thatcher was made Opposition Spokeswoman on Housing and Land, this was where one of her flagship policies of her Prime Ministership would develop, the advocation of allowing tenants to purchase their council properties. In 1966, she was moved to the Shadow Treasury team as Spokeswoman where she argued against price controls and increasing taxation imposed by the Chancellor Jim Callaghan, whom she would later succeed as PM.


Following another election defeat in 1966, where the Conservatives led by Edward Heath lost a further 51 seats, Jim Prior, who would later lead the 'wets' in Mrs Thatcher's Cabinet, actually recommended her for a Shadow Cabinet role to Heath but he and Chief Whip, Willie Whitelaw, would decide against it and appoint Irene 'Mervyn' Pike as the only female member. Thatcher would support several landmark Bills, including Labour MP Leo Abse's bill to decriminalise male homosexuality, one of the only Conservative MPs to do so, as well as supporting David Steel's bill to legalise abortion and voting against motions to abolish capital punishment. In 1967, she was promoted by Heath to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Education and Science Minister, a role she would be made Secretary of State for in 1970, following electoral victory.


Margaret Thatcher, the Cabinet Minister

As Education and Science Secretary, she scrapped Labour's policy of comprehensivisation which meant all secondary schools had to accept all pupils, abolishing selective education such as grammar schools, she did manage to save 94 grammar schools during her tenure. On the science side of the role, Thatcher supported Lord Rothschild's proposals to use more market based forces when funding science projects and perhaps the thing she is most remembered for is the 1971 decision to stop the state provision of free milk to primary school pupils which earned her the nickname of 'Thatcher the milk snatcher'. This cut was due to mounting trade union pressures on Heath's government which caused rising wages and the need for cuts in other departments, Education and Science being hard hit but Thatcher saw this as the only place where the budget could be cut without damaging the standard of education. During her time as Secretary of State, Thatcher was subject to heckling and massive amounts of abuse, something most of the Ministers in Heath's government were forced to become accustomed to due to the unpopularity of the Prime Minister and the view that it kept making 'u-turns' on policy as well as being one of the most interventionist in history.


Britain's First Female Political Leader

The next step in Thatcher's career came after Mr Heath suffered defeat in the October general election of 1974, Harold Wilson had won his third general election, all be it with a slim majority. The Leader of the Opposition was defeated by Thatcher on the first ballot when challenged him, this consequently led to his resignation as Party leader. Thatcher's leadership bid was run by one of her most trusted colleagues, Airey Neave and had her loyalist supporters, Sir Keith Joseph and Norman Tebbit in the campaign team; although not favourite at first to succeed Heath, she gained the influential support of the 1922 Committee and The Spectator, then edited by Eurosceptic businessman Harold Creighton. She eventually won the Party leadership on 11th February 1975, despite competition from Willie Whitelaw, Geoffrey Howe, Jim Prior and John Peyton; she formed her Shadow Cabinet of a mixture of allies and what she branded as 'wets', her election meant that she was the first woman to lead a western political party and be democratically elected.


Although initially supporting membership of the EEC in 1975, Thatcher would later become a staunch Eurosceptic, especially when Jacques Delors became President of the European Commission moving to a more integrationist stance. Thatcher was a supporter of purely the free trading bloc that the EEC proposed but once more political integration was proposed, she swiftly reconsidered.


During her time as Leader of the Opposition, Thatcher was more than critical of Wilson and Callaghan's governments, with the latter remembered as one of the most crisis prone government's in history. The first being in 1976 when Britain faced a virtual bankruptcy when the value of sterling collapsed on the foreign exchange and forced the Chancellor Denis Healey to negotiate credit from the International Monetary Fund, causing mass austerity, not seen before or since. This would ultimately lead to strikes after strikes in all sectors, those reaching a climax in the winter of 1978-79, known as the Winter of Discontent where the country essentially stopped due to trade unions' pay demands causing mass strikes. The situation was summed up by a journalist from The Sun in the headline 'Crisis. What Crisis?' and although Callaghan never uttered those immortal words, it was one that the public resonated with, Labour were seen as incompetent and Callaghan out of his depth. A vote of confidence in the government was tabled by Thatcher on 28th March 1979, Callaghan's government lost 311 votes to 310, meaning there was no confidence in the government – something which hadn't happened since 1924 when the first ever Labour PM, Ramsay MacDonald lost a confidence vote in the House and it hasn't happened since. A general election was subsequently triggered for 4th May 1979 where Thatcher would win a 43 seat majority, causing Roy Hattersley to later remark "the 28th March 1979 was the last rites of the old Labour".


The West's First Democratically Elected Female Leader

However, all wasn't roses for Mrs Thatcher, although she had stormed to victory with a majority, she had lost one of her closest friends in politics, Airey Neave before the general election when he was assassinated by Irish republicans whilst driving out of the Palace of Westminster. Thatcher's first Cabinet was also one that would cause her sleepless nights, the so called wets in there, those who had been less supportive of her and had favoured Mr Heath's style of government, tried to undermine her at several stages, thus causing for a significant reshuffle in 1981.


The early years of the Thatcher Ministry were dominated by the economic impact of the last Labour government as well as the task of reforming the trade unions. One of her first acts as PM was to decrease personal, direct taxes but to balance the budget, the Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe increased indirect taxes. Interest rates were rising out of control and inflation was in double digits, causing Thatcher and Howe to implement a deflationary budget in 1980, unemployment was also rising due to the harsh austerity imposed by the Labour government as a result of the credit terms with the IMF. Around this time also, Thatcher introduced a policy known as the Right to Buy, this was for tenants of council houses who were offered the chance to buy their home at a significantly discounted price if they lived in it for so long. This was a revolutionary policy which created a generation of homeowners and allowed the working classes and lower middle classes to own their own capital and have assets to pass onto their children, for the first time in their family history. Some 6 million houses were eligible to purchase and the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine who was in charge of the implementation of the Housing Act, 1980 said "no single piece of legislation has enabled the transfer of so much capital wealth from the state to the people".


The budget of spring 1981, increasing taxes at the lowest point of the recession, contrasted the conventional Keynesian economic thinking, but it made possible a cut in interest rates and demonstrated this newly found determination; economic recovery started in the same quarter and eight years of growth followed. The significance of the 1981 Cabinet reshuffle cannot be underestimated either, Jim Prior, the leader of the wets, was demoted to Northern Ireland Secretary from Employment, Norman Tebbit, a Thatcher loyalist replaced him; Nigel Lawson was brought into Energy, replacing David Howell; Francis Pym was removed from his post as Defence Secretary in favour of John Nott; Norman St John-Stevas was sacked from the Cabinet, Norman Fowler was brought in as Secretary of State for Transport before being promoted to Health Secretary, Mark Carlisle was removed as Education Secretary in favour of one of Thatcher's key supporters, Sir Keith Joseph and John Biffen was promoted to Secretary for Trade as well as Leon Brittan being first introduced as Chief Secretary to the Treasury as well as, finally, the promotion of Cecil Parkinson to Paymaster General.


Taking on the Unions and the Argentinians

It was in 1981 that the first significant piece of trade union legislation was introduced by the newly appointed Employment Secretary, Norman Tebbit and this was the Employment Act, 1982 the Act restricted legal immunities from trade unions, it gave members a right to a secret postal ballot on strike action, therefore abolishing the closed shop and it meant unions' members had a right to select their leader through a secret postal ballot. At the time, the leader of the TUC Len Murray and the President of the National Union of Mineworkers, Arthur Scargill were vehemently opposed to it and ran a campaign of 'Scrap Tebbit's Law'.


It was in 1982 when Thatcher really secured the following year's general election victory; in the April of that year, the Argentinian Junta's invasion of the British controlled Falkland Islands provoked a tough reaction from Thatcher. Earlier in her premiership, a Soviet newspaper had branded her the 'Iron Lady', a name that would stick and it was in the House during the Falklands Crisis that former Conservative MP and somewhat supporter of Mrs Thatcher, Enoch Powell, made clear that "we shall see what metal she is truly made of" in her dealing with General Galtieri. A British taskforce was sent to the South Atlantic to defend the Islands and the sovereignty of them from a brutal fascist dictatorship; perhaps the most pivotal moment of the war was when she gave order to sink the Argentine warship, the General Belgrano, despite it being outside the exclusion zone – it was in her and her top naval advisors' minds posing a threat to British troops. The war was somewhat controversial even in her so called War Cabinet, consisting of top military personnel and senior Cabinet Ministers, the then Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe was in favour of a more diplomatic solution due to the cost of war, however this had already failed despite the help of Ronald Reagan, the non-aggressive solution was off the table. Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary was also somewhat against military action and believed he had failed on foreign policy which subsequently triggered his resignation following the war, he was replaced by Francis Pym. The victory in the Falklands was seen as a huge success among the British public and was celebrated, some even credit this to her unprecedented election victory the following spring. Her parliamentary majority more than trebled to a majority of 144, a margin not seen for decades.


The second Thatcher administration was littered with stumbling blocks also, the trade unions caused Thatcher more hassle and this came to an all time high in 1984-85 when the NUM announced that all miners and mineworkers would go out on strike, their President Arthur Scargill claimed that he would "take down this government". However, Nigel Lawson who was, at this point, Chancellor of the Exchequer had been crucial in the scenario as in his former role as secretary of State for Energy, he had built up a stock of coal which could power the nation for at least 18 months, therefore making the yearlong miners' strikes worthless as they had little impact and Scargill eventually caved into the government in 1985 and they were instructed all mineworkers to return to work.


Tragedy for the Iron Lady

However, things may have been a lot different as during Party Conference in 1984, the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where party delegates, including the Cabinet were staying. Mrs Thatcher and her husband Denis came out shocked but uninjured, unfortunately the same couldn't be said for one of her staunchest allies, Norman Tebbit who was hospitalised and even more tragically his wife, Margaret – a career nurse – was paralysed from the neck down; not only that, Deputy Chief Whip Sir Anthony Berry, Lady Maclean, Eric Taylor, Lady Shattock and Roberta Wakeham (the wife of Thatcherite Minister John Wakeham) were all killed as well as 34 severely injured. Thatcher proceeded with her speech at conference where she made clear that she would not be defeated or held back by terrorism. Her opening speech to the Conference is as follows "that is the scale of the outrage in which we have all shared, and the fact that we are gathered here now - shocked, but composed and determined - is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail." Thatcher had become a target for the IRA as she had failed to meet the demands in 1980-81 when Sinn Fein MP, Bobby Sands died on hunger strike in protest of the treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland as well as the prosecution of terrorists.


This firmed her approach to terrorism, something which would be a defining factor of her career in politics, with one of her closest aides being assassinated by terrorists, herself being subject to an assassination attempt as well as back in 1980 when the Islamic Revolution in Iran caused terrorists to keep the occupants of the Iranian embassy in London hostage; Thatcher and Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw, sent the SAS in to storm the embassy which they did successfully, with only one hostage being killed. Her approach to terrorism was hostile no matter which group it was, whether that being republican, loyalist or from a foreign nation such as the Iranian terrorists in 1980.


Privatisation and the mid-1980s Boom

The economy boomed from 1984, this was a lot to do with one of Thatcher's other flagship policies, privatisation and the liberalisation of markets, even once remarking that "if Mr Gladstone had have been alive today, even he may consider re-joining the Conservatives". The first significant privatisation was of British Telecom in 1984 when Norman Tebbit was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, this set the baselines and a guide for future privatisation of state owned industries. British Steel was high up the priorities of Thatcher as it was reported to be losing £1 million per day in 1985, this was before the sale of British Leyland, famed for strikes and inefficiency, as well as British Gas and others. This was crucial as it introduced free market economics, outlined by Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, someone who Thatcher massively admired. Not only did privatisation increase revenue for a cash strapped Treasury, it allowed people to become shareholders, generate wealth, make a better life for themselves and their families, it drove up efficiency and productivity and it also significantly boosted Britain's profile on the global stage. Before 1979, not even the Communist bloc would buy British goods due to the unreliability and poor quality, matched with the failure to meet production deadlines.


The economy specifically took an up turn in 1986 due to significant tax cuts for all bands of tax, the raising of the national insurance threshold and the cutting of duty of several items, this would be noted down in history as the 'Lawson Boom'. As Thatcher said in 1977 "Every family should have the right to spend their money, after tax, as they wish, and not as the government dictates. Let us extend choice, extend the will to choose and the chance to choose."


Thatcher was under pressure going into the 1987 general election, a year earlier Michael Heseltine resigned as Secretary of State for Defence over the Westland Affair, the sale of Britain's last helicopter manufacturer to an American company rather than Heseltine's favoured European solution. However, some see this as Heseltine's way of weighing up a leadership challenge post 1987. Thatcher and Party Chairman Norman Tebbit fell out somewhat over the strategy of the general election with Tebbit being less optimistic and urging her to take on the advice of the long serving marketing professionals, Charles and Maurice Saatchi. Nevertheless, the Iron Lady retained public support and commanded a House majority of 102, despite losing 21 seats, however this would be her last ever general election as three years later her own party and some of her own Cabinet would stab her in the back to bring her down.


War on Communism

The final years of Thatcher's tenure as Prime Minister would be dominated by the closing stages of the Cold War, her tough approach to Communism and the Soviet Union would be what ultimately helped bring the dissolution of the USSR on Boxing Day 1991. Along with her political soulmate, US President Ronald Reagan, she negotiated with General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to gradually open up the Soviet Union and bring an end to mass Communism in the eastern bloc. By 1990, the Cold War was essentially over with Gorbachev giving in to the global pressures piled on by Reagan and Thatcher, liberalising the markets in eastern Europe, something which wouldn't have even been considered a decade earlier. A lot of this was down to the successful foreign policy that she worked on with Sir Geoffrey Howe, her long serving Foreign Secretary, however, it was her apparently loyal friend that would hammer the final blow to her Prime Ministership.


The Bruges Speech and the Internal Battle Begins

With the end of the Cold War looming, Europe under the guidance of Commissioner Delors moved ever closer to integration and it was in 1988 when Margaret Thatcher delivered one of her most famous speeches. It lasted for little less than half an hour but would define a generation of politics and the future of the Conservative Party – it was to the College of Europe on 20th September 1988, this speech is now known as The Bruges Speech. In that speech, she teared into European integration and how it undermined the whole principles of free markets, the very thing that the Community had been set up to promote, she pointed out how "we should stand with Europe but Europe is better for the fact that France is France, Belgium is Belgium and Britain is Britain, each with their own customs and values". Thatcher subsequently became one of the most vocal opponents of the European project, even during her autumn years in office, especially being staunchly opposed to Britain's membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, the Chancellor Nigel Lawson was in favour of Britain being in a fixed exchange mechanism with Germany. Due to her opposition to this and her favouring the economic advice her chief economic advisor from Alan Walters, Lawson resigned in the early days of 1989, and John Major replaced him as Chancellor. Major would eventually take us into the ERM, despite Thatcher's discontent, and one that she would be proved right on, on Black Wednesday in 1992 when Britain crashed out. Norman Tebbit, at the time of joining branded it the 'eternal recession mechanism'.


Following her Bruges Speech, there was an internal war beginning in the Conservative Party, moves to oust her as leader followed in the months succeeding her speech in Belgium began with a 'stalking horse' candidate for leadership being put up. This stalking horse was backbench MP Sir Anthony Meyer who was one of the greatest critics of Thatcher's anti-integrationist policy – Meyer would go on to be a member of the Pro-European Conservative Party and then later the Liberal Democrats following the folding of the former. The stalking horse candidate was to test the water, to see which MPs may fold and vote against the PM in the following year when a serious leadership battle could commence when Michael Heseltine launched his leadership bid in the autumn of 1990.


The Beginning of the End for the Iron Lady

The rates system needed huge reform in order to produce more efficient and more accountable local government finances, the reason was primarily to weed out overspending councils and for Margaret Thatcher this made things enormously difficult. The introduction of the Community Charge, better known as the Poll Tax, first introduced in Scotland in 1989 and then in England and Wales in 1990, this policy was designed to be a more equitable system, as it spread the tax base, to replace the outdated, medieval rates system. The man in charge of implementing it was known wet and Thatcher critic, Chris Patten who, in the words of Norman Tebbit who helped construct the policy with Peter Walker, "not the right man for the job", that matched with the fact that students weren't excluded from paying it and that the Treasury had not released enough funds to successfully roll the charge out resulted in mass riots and non-payment, by this time Thatcher was too far down the line to make a u-turn.


There were two last big moments to be had by Thatcher though, the first being on 30th October 1990 when summarising the meetings of the European Council in Rome a few days earlier – the meetings had been intended to be on tariffs and trade but ended up being on monetary union. The resulting speech to the House would go down in legend "Yes, the Commission does want to increase its powers. Yes, it is a non-elected body and I do not want the Commission to increase its powers at the expense of the House, so of course we are differing. The President of the Commission, Mr Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate. No. No. No."


The second of which would be in her last ever speech as Prime Minister in the House on 22nd November 1990 when it was clear that Thatcher wouldn't be PM for much longer. When responding to a question regarding to "her personal fight against a single currency and an independent Central Bank after she leaves office", resident Labour heckler Dennis Skinner called out "she's gonna be the gov'nor" to which Thatcher replied "what a good idea" this cementing her as one of the greatest orators of all time in the House. Furthermore, that day, she would have one last stand against Socialism, pointing out how Labour "would rather the poor were poorer, providing the rich were less rich".


The Departure of our Greatest Peacetime PM

The end of the Downing Street years for Mrs Thatcher came on 28th November 1990 after 11 and a half years in office, making her the longest serving Prime Minister since 1827 and the only person in the 20th century to win three consecutive general election, and has only been done once since by Tony Blair. It all ended when Michael Heseltine lodged a leadership bid against the PM when she was at a summit in Paris held by political foe but personal friend, Francois Mitterand. Thatcher was just three votes short of beating Heseltine outright on the first ballot, which would've meant she couldn't be challenged as Party leader for at least another year. One of the final blows was the resignation of the Leader of the House of Commons, Sir Geoffrey Howe, the only surviving member of Thatcher's first Cabinet appointed on 5th May 1979 – Howe resigned over shorty after his demotion from Foreign Secretary which was mainly due to his pro-European stance, his resignation speech to the House was one that would go down in political history, his opening remarks were a dig at Thatcher's cricket reference when he described his position as being like "an opening batsman stepping up to the crease, only to realise that before the first balls have been bowled, the bat has been broken by the team captain" and then he spoke about a "tragic conflict of loyalties which I have battled, for perhaps, too long"; a speech which arguably spelled the end of Thatcher in Number 10, delivered by someone whose opposite number (Denis Healey) once described his approach as "like being savaged by a dead sheep".


Thatcher was eventually succeeded by John Major, her third and final Chancellor of the Exchequer after Heseltine dropped out of the leadership race; Douglas Hurd the Foreign Secretary was also eliminated in the process. In 1987 the favourite among Party members to replace the Iron Lady when she went was Norman Tebbit, however he stood back from frontline politics that same year to look after his wife who was permanently disabled following the Brighton bomb attack in 1984.


Following her departure from office, Thatcher continued her fight for freedom and free markets, once saying how the "freer the markets, the freer the people", including becoming President of The Bruges Group, named after her speech in 1988 among others. She set up the Margaret Thatcher Foundation to educate on free markets and promote political and economic freedom as well as this she published her memoirs in two parts, 'Path to Power' and 'The Downing Street Years', plus her book outlining her views on state involvement called 'Statecraft' – Charles Moore would later write a three part series of her biography which detailed accounts of her life and time as PM, I would highly recommend reading them.


Rest in peace and thank you, Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, we truly do live in Thatcher's Britain. 


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