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UPDATE: Thatcher funeral date set

Politicians divided on Iron Lady - Mélenchon sees her in ‘hell’ while Hollande says she 'left a profound mark on her country’

FAR-LEFT politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon wasted no words of eulogy on hearing of the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher: he said in a tweet that she would “discover in hell that which she had done to the miners”.

The president of the Front de Gauche reflected the split in opinion over her death which also saw President Hollande hailing her as a "great figure who left a profound mark on the history of her country" and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault paying tribute to "a great head of state" who “caused significant economic and social damage" through excessive liberalisation.

Hollande added that she and the late president François Mitterrand “worked together to strengthen the ties between our two countries” with cooperation that led to the building of the Channel Tunnel.

Thatcher, who died in London’s Ritz Hotel yesterday of a stroke at the age of 87, was the UK’s first female prime minister and won three successive general elections between 1979 and 1990.

A funeral ceremony with full military honours will be held on Wednesday April 17 in St Paul’s Cathedral in London. She will not receive a state funeral but is accorded the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

UK prime minister David Cameron said Thatcher had "taken a country that was on its knees and made it stand tall again”.

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who was president from 1974 to 1981, said "I was witness to the fact that in the European Union, she was by far the most popular politician." He said she had “an unshakeable will, an untameable character" but added: "She did not have a lot of consideration for people she was speaking to if she thought they were weaker than she, which was not necessarily true."

Jacques Chirac, who was president from 1995 to 2007, sparked a diplomatic incident in 1988 when he demanded during a Brussels summit: “What does she want, this housewife? My balls on a tray?” Today he hailed her tenacity and said that “past fully-assumed disagreements” did not prevent “respect”.

UMP leader Jean-François Copé praised her for her “structural reforms” in the UK and the “spectacular modernisation of the economy” while “defending her convictions”.
Photo: Margaret Thatcher Foundation

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