Margaret Thatcher dies: Reaction in quotes
- 8 April 2013
- From the section UK Politics
Former Conservative Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher has died aged 87. Here is the reaction in quotes:
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER
We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.
As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn't just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she'll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.
Her legacy will be the fact she served her country so well, she saved our country and that she showed immense courage in doing so. And people will be learning about what she did and her achievements in decades, probably for centuries to come.
The Queen is sad to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher. Her Majesty will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family.
BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT
The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend. As a grocer's daughter who rose to become Britain's first female prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered. As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best. And as an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom's promise.
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, FORMER SOVIET LEADER
Our first meeting in 1984 marked the beginning of a relationship that was difficult sometimes, not always smooth, but serious and responsible from both sides. Gradually, human relations developed as well, they became more and more friendly. Eventually we were able to reach mutual understanding, and this contributed to changes in atmosphere between our country and the West, and to the end of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher was a great politician. She will remain in our memory and in history.
JOHN MAJOR, FORMER CONSERVATIVE PRIME MINISTER
In government, the UK was turned around under - and in large measure because of - her leadership. Her reforms of the economy, trades union law, and her recovery of the Falkland Islands elevated her above normal politics, and may not have been achieved under any other leader.
Her outstanding characteristics will always be remembered by those who worked closely with her: courage and determination in politics, and humanity and generosity of spirit in private.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER LABOUR PRIME MINISTER
Margaret Thatcher was a towering political figure. Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast. And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour government, and came to be implemented by governments around the world.
Even if you disagreed with her as I did on certain issues and occasionally strongly, you could not disrespect her character or her contribution to Britain's national life. She will be sadly missed.
NANCY REAGAN, FORMER US FIRST LADY
It is well known that my husband and Lady Thatcher enjoyed a very special relationship as leaders of their respective countries during one of the most difficult and pivotal periods in modern history. Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end Communism. As Prime Minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to "rock the boat". As a result, she helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of millions of people.
Ronnie and I knew her as a dear and trusted friend, and I will miss her. The United States knew Margaret as a spirited and courageous ally, and the world owes her a debt of gratitude.
GORDON BROWN, FORMER LABOUR PRIME MINISTER
She will be remembered not only for being Britain's first female prime minister and holding the office for eleven years, but also for the determination and resilience with which she carried out all her duties throughout her public life. Even those who disagreed with her never doubted the strength of her convictions and her unwavering belief in Britain's destiny in the world.
MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS AND STAR OF THE IRON LADY
Margaret Thatcher was a pioneer, willingly or unwillingly, for the role of women in politics. It is hard to imagine a part of our current history that has not been affected by measures she put forward in the UK at the end of the 20th Century.
CYNTHIA CRAWFORD, FORMER PA TO BARONESS THATCHER
She was a wonderful, wonderful person. I believe that history will honour her for all that she achieved and it has been a great privilege to have been by her side for the past 35 years.
MIKE SUMMERS, LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
She will be forever remembered in the Islands for her decisiveness in sending a task force to liberate our home following the Argentine invasion in 1982. Our sincere gratitude was demonstrated in 1983 when she was granted the Freedom of the Falkland Islands. Her friendship and support will be sorely missed. We will always be thankful for all that she did for us.
NICK CLEGG, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
Margaret Thatcher was one of the defining figures in modern British politics. Whatever side of the political debate you stand on, no one can deny that as prime minister she left a unique and lasting imprint on the country she served. She may have divided opinion during her time in politics but everyone will be united today in acknowledging the strength of her personality and the radicalism of her politics.
WILLIAM HAGUE, FOREIGN SECRETARY
She changed our country forever and all of us owe so much to her. A legacy few will ever equal.
GEORGE OSBORNE, CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Margaret Thatcher's belief in freedom and optimism about the future overcame all. Her determination is our generation's inspiration.
ED MILIBAND, LABOUR LEADER
She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.
The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength. She also defined the politics of the 1980s. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I all grew up in a politics shaped by Lady Thatcher.
BERNARD INGHAM, FORMER NO 10 PRESS SECRETARY
We have lost the outstanding peacetime prime minister of the 20th Century. She was the perfect prime minister - she knew what she wanted to do, and did it. Her 11 years were quite outstanding, and raised the standing of Britain in the world, and changed the nature of Britain itself.
THE RIGHT REVEREND JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
It is right that today we give thanks for a life devoted to public service, acknowledging also the faith that inspired and sustained her.
LORD LAWSON, FORMER CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
She had firm principles but she was also interested in detail and she, with the help of some of her colleagues, certainly saved the country from a very, very weak economic condition that may have been irreversible if she hadn't come along.
NORMAN TEBBIT, FORMER CONSERVATIVE PARTY CHAIRMAN
It is immensely sad that we have lost one of the greatest political figures of the second half of the 20th Century. I was proud to have served in her government and to have worked with her in those years. We could do with another one like her right now.
LORD HESELTINE, FORMER CONSERVATIVE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
I am sorry to learn of Lady Thatcher's death. The illness of her last years has been cruel and very difficult. I send my deepest condolences to Mark and Carol Thatcher.
LORD HOWE, FORMER CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
We have not seen each other for a long time and it does come as quite a shock. She was a remarkable person with tremendous qualities - hard-working, intelligent, a very good leader.
LORD HURD, FORMER CONSERVATIVE HOME SECRETARY
Mrs Thatcher was very persistent. She would not let go. She went on and on and on until through sheer exhaustion and exasperation others gave her most of what she wanted.
LORD KINNOCK, FORMER LABOUR LEADER
I recognise and admire the great distinction of Baroness Thatcher as the first woman to become leader of a major UK political party and prime minister.
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH, FORMER CONSERVATIVE LEADER
Watching her set out to change Britain for the better in 1979 made me believe there was, at last, real purpose and real leadership in politics once again. She bestrode the political world like a colossus.
BORIS JOHNSON, CONSERVATIVE MAYOR OF LONDON
Margaret Thatcher freed millions of people to buy their own homes and buy shares in British companies. She ended the defeatism and pessimism of the post-war period and unleashed a spirit of enterprise. She fought against the clubby, cosy, male-dominated consensus of both main parties - and she won. Her beliefs - in thrift, hard work, and proper reward for merit - were not always popular. But her legacy is colossal.
JONATHAN AITKEN, FORMER CONSERVATIVE CABINET MINISTER
She did have weaknesses and they showed up from 1989 onwards. Refusing to change her mind on the poll tax was one of her biggest mistakes.
ALEX SALMOND, SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER
Margaret Thatcher was a truly formidable prime minister whose policies defined a political generation.
CARWYN JONES, WELSH FIRST MINISTER
Margaret Thatcher was a major force in British political life who undoubtedly had a significant influence on the political, social and economic landscape in Wales and the UK.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR
She shaped modern Great Britain as few have before or since. She was one of the greatest leaders in World politics of her time. The freedom of the individual was at the centre of her beliefs so she recognised very early the power of the movements for freedom in Eastern Europe. And she supported them. I will never forget her contribution in overcoming Europe's partition and the end of the Cold War.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT
Throughout her public life, with conservative beliefs she fully assumed, she was concerned with the United Kingdom's influence and the defence of its interests. She maintained a relationship with France that was frank and honest.
GEORGE W BUSH, FORMER US PRESIDENT
She was an inspirational leader who stood on principle and guided her nation with confidence and clarity. She is a great example of strength and character, and a great ally who strengthened the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER US PRESIDENT
Like so many others, I respected the conviction and self-determination she displayed throughout her remarkable life as she broke barriers, defied expectations, and led her country.
HANS-DIETRICH GENSCHER, FORMER GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER
A great European personality has gone from us. For Germany, she was not always an easy partner but always a reliable one. Many of her beliefs were influenced by her childhood in World War II, more so than through the challenges of the post-war period. It is this world view which may have been the reason for her hesitation about German reunification.
GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN PRESIDENT
Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as prime minister. Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies. Her role in international affairs was equally belligerent whether in support of the Chilean dictator Pinochet, her opposition to sanctions against Apartheid South Africa; and her support for the Khmer Rouge. Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering.
ENDA KENNY, IRISH TAOISEACH
While her period of office came at a challenging time for British-Irish relations, when the violent conflict in Northern Ireland was at its peak, Mrs Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement which laid the foundation for improved North-South co-operation and ultimately the Good Friday Agreement.
FW DE KLERK, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT
She will be remembered not only as one of Britain's greatest prime ministers but also as a leader whose policies and approach had a significant impact on politics throughout the world. Although she was always a steadfast critic of apartheid, she had a much better grasp of the complexities and geo-strategic realities of South Africa than many of her contemporaries.
SIR ANTHONY BAMFORD, INDUSTRIALIST
Above all else, she had the courage of her convictions, she led from the front and ensured Britain enjoyed the respect it deserves overseas.
KIM HOWELLS, FORMER LABOUR MP AND NATIONAL UNION OF MINEWORKERS OFFICIAL
It's very difficult now looking back to try and convey the intensity of the feeling against Margaret Thatcher at that time. I mean one doesn't want to speak ill of the dead but she was despised in many many homes across the coalfields of Britain, not just south Wales of course. She had a very definite agenda. She wanted to change the country and a bit like war theory and Clausewitz she realised that sooner or later you had to confront the main enemy and she saw the main enemy, rightly or wrongly, as the National Union of Mineworkers.
KEN LIVINGSTONE, FORMER LONDON MAYOR
Her legacy was all the great problems we face today. Her strategy was wrong. She destroyed the trade unions by allowing our manufacturing to collapse.
GEORGE GALLOWAY, RESPECT PARTY MP
Margaret Thatcher described Nelson Mandela as a "terrorist". I was there. I saw her lips move. May she burn in the hellfires.
JOE ANDERSON, LABOUR MAYOR OF LIVERPOOL
Tories believe in division and inequality. Thatcher defined that and Thatcherism continues today as bad or worse than her period in office.
CHARLES MOORE, AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHER
She's a figure of myth. And I mean by that everybody for hundreds of years will know if you say, she's a real Margaret Thatcher, they'll know what you mean. An ism has been named after her. Her character's very strong, her beliefs are very strong and this has been an enormously important part in the history of freedom in the western world and it's seen and admired, and often criticised but never the less strongly admired across the world.
Thatcher will only be fondly remembered by sentimentalists who did not suffer under her leadership, but the majority of British working people have forgotten her already, and the people of Argentina will be celebrating her death. As a matter of recorded fact, Thatcher was a terror without an atom of humanity.
ARMANDO IANNUCCI , SATIRIST
We now live in a country in which John Major is our greatest living politician.