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Margaret Thatcher dies, aged 87

DEPARTED: Margaret Thatcher died today

FORMER PRIME Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke.

Her spokesman, Lord Bell, said: “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning.”

Thatcher, known to many as the ‘Iron Lady’, was prime minister from 1979 to 1990 – her premiership oversaw events including the Falklands War, the miners’ strikes, and the poll tax riots.

The Conservative leader also introduced the law which gave people the right to buy their council homes, and scrapped free milk at schools.

Born Margaret Roberts, Thatcher graduated from Oxford and became the Conservative MP for Finchley, north London in 1959.

In 1975, she successfully challenged the Conservative leader Edward Heath and replaced him as head of the party.

Thatcher won three general elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987.

After retiring from the House of Commons in 1992, she was given the title of Baroness.

In response to the news, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "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."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "She will be remembered as a unique figure.

"She reshaped the politics of a whole generation.

"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", he added.

DIVISIVE FIGURE: Thatcher's legacy is widely disputed

London mayor Boris Johnson tweeted: "Very sad to hear of death of Baroness Thatcher.

"Her memory will live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today's politics."

Sam Gyimah, Conservative MP for East Surrey, tweeted: "Deeply saddened by the passing away of Baroness Thatcher.

"A remarkable woman, inspirational leader and great Prime Minister of our country."

In a statement from the White House, US president Barack Obama said: "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", the American leader added.

Downing Street announced, with The Queen's consent, that Thatcher will receive a ceremonial funeral with military honours.

The service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral, and will be followed by a private cremation.

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