DAVID Cameron yesterday said Margaret Thatcher “defined and overcame the great challenges of her age” as politicians of all parties attended a special sitting of parliament in honour of the former Prime Minister.
“At a time when it was difficult for a woman to become a MP, almost inconceivable that one could lead the Conservative Party and, by her own reckoning, virtually impossible that a woman could become Prime Minister – she did all three,” Cameron added.
Hundreds of MPs and peers paid tribute to the record-breaking Prime Minister during hours of debate, while a handful took the opportunity to attack her legacy.
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivered a well-received speech, saying that while he had little time for some of Thatcher’s policies she still was a “unique and towering figure” who shaped modern Britain.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also admitted she set “the parameters for economic, political and social debate for decades to come”.
Conservative MP Conor Burns, a close friend of Thatcher, had earlier insisted that the ex-Prime Minister recognised that she was a divisive figure and would not have wanted her opponents to tone down their views.
Labour MP Glenda Jackson duly obliged, saying Thatcher had wrecked the “most heinous, social, economic and spiritual damage upon this country”.
“A woman? Not on my terms,” Jackson added.
Many of Thatcher’s former cabinet ministers spoke in a parallel debate held the House of Lords.
Lord Tebbit bemoaned the fact that she was brought down by Conservative infighting rather than the electorate, saying he bitterly regretted leaving her “at the mercy of her friends”.
Baroness Trumpington praised her willingness to debate almost anything simply because she “liked to have something to fight against”.
Lib Dem peer Shirley Williams said Thatcher had the “most incredible single-mindedness, determination, dedication and self-discipline”.
"They say that cometh the hour, cometh the man. Well in 1979 came the hour, and came The Lady. And let this be her epitaph: she made Britain great again."
"Margaret Thatcher was a unique and towering figure. I disagree with much of what she did. But I respect what her death means to many people who admired her."
"Whether you liked her or disliked her it is impossible to deny the indelible imprint Margaret Thatcher made on the nation and the wider world."
"Not only is it quite remarkable that she won three elections running , she polled slightly more votes on the occasion of her third victory than the first."
"Everything I had been taught to regard as a vice under Thatcherism was in fact a virtue: greed, selfishness, no care for the weaker, sharp elbows, sharp knees."