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Thatcher's 'Iron' stance towards Europe


Thatcher's 'Iron' stance towards Europe


Britain’s first female prime minister had a prickly relationship with Europe during her eleven years in Downing Street.

But it hadn’t always been that way.

Margaret Thatcher had been a vocal advocate of Britain staying in the European Community, the precursor to the EU whilst in opposition.

Once in power, she fiercely defended Britain’s interests.

At one summit in Dublin in November 1979, Thatcher kicked off her campaign to lower the UK’s contributions to Europe’s budget.

She argued that her country’s with its small farming sector meant it gained little benefit from the Common Agricultural Policy.

More than four years later, she succeeded in winning the infamous UK rebate, a source of much debate in Brussels even today.

Whilst Thatcher supported the single market, she was opposed to closer political integration.

In 1988, she delivered a famous speech in the Belgian town of Bruges in which she railed against “a European super-state exercising new dominance from Brussels.”

Her views on Europe would eventually be her downfall.

When her deputy prime minister Geoffrey Howe stepped down in November 1990, the pro-European members of her Cabinet ousted her, triggering a leadership contest.

That divide over Europe still blights Britain’s Tories today. Thatcher also divides members of the European Parliament, who euronews asked for their views on how they would remember the Iron Lady.

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