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Europe's elder statesmen pay homage to Thatcher

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Europe's elder statesmen pay homage to Thatcher


A woman of her word and a woman who always perfectly presented – just some of the memories of Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

Margaret Thatcher was like a sparring partner for France’s former president in her early years as prime minister and he says she left a lasting impression.

“She had an unwavering strength. A special indomitable character – which is why she was called the Iron Lady. She didn’t have much time for interlocutors because she thought they were weaker than her,” he said.

For Germany’s former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Thatcher was a “great woman” who earned your respect, “even if you disagreed” with her. He said she was one of the most exceptionally gifted prime ministers Britain ever had.

“There was no substitute for her. I’m full of respect and awe for our mutual past,” said Kohl.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, said she was a “great politician and an exceptional person” who helped end the Cold War.

Thatcher’s quotable quotes
  • “I don’t think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime.” – as Education Secretary in 1973, six years before becoming Britain’s first, and so far only, woman prime minister
  • “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.” – Quoting St Francis of Assisi after her 1979 election victory
  • “I am not a consensus politician. I’m a conviction politician.” – 1979
  • “I don’t mind how much my ministers talk, as long as they do what I say.” – 1980
  • “We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.” – On the 1984-85 miners’ strike which provoked some of the fiercest union opposition to her economic policies
  • “We are not asking for a penny piece of community money for Britain. What we are asking is for a very large amount of our own money back, over and above what we contribute to the community, which is covered by our receipts from the community.”- At a European Economic Community summit 1979
  • “To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.” – 1980 Conservative Party conference, to colleagues urging her to soften her economic policies that were blamed for high unemployment
  • “This is a day I was not meant to see.” – To reporters the day after surviving a deadly 1984 Irish Republican Army bomb attack on the Conservative Party conference
  • “We have become a grandmother.” – On the birth of her first grandchild, 1989
  • “No! No! No!” At the House of Commons in 1990, the climax of an anti-European outburst that moved Geoffrey Howe to quit as deputy prime minister and deliver a resignation speech which called for her to be challenged for her job
  • “I fight on, I fight to win.” – In November 1990, after failing to win enough votes to avoid a second round in the Conservative leadership contest. She resigned the next day
  • “It’s a funny old world” – On her decision to quit in 1990

Flags at British embassies around the world will fly at half mast while the British parliament will be recalled from its Easter recess on Wednesday to enable MPs to pay tributes.

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