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Today in history... there's not much new in politics!

12:00am | & News

She made it clear that she would vigorously fight any proposal for European integration that would threaten British sovereignty.

That line could very easily have come from the past few days, but in fact it is from 24 years ago, when former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher took her place in the House of Lords on June 30th, 1992.

After being ousted as Prime Minister by her own party in November 1990 after almost 12 years in office, Mrs Thatcher announced seven months later that she would not stand at the next General Election. Retiring from the House of Commons in 1992 after more than 30 years as an MP, she was granted a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, and with it a seat in the House of Lords. 

It meant she could continue to have her voice heard in a national forum on matters which concerned her, particularly on European issues. In fact she said that leaving the House of Commons would give her more freedom to speak her mind.

True to her word, Mrs Thatcher used her maiden speech in the House of Lords to criticise the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union in its modern format and led to the creation of a single European currency, the Euro.

Saying she would never have signed such a treaty, she told the Lords: "Many people who travel through Europe, as I have done in recent months, are struck by the very sharp change in attitudes towards the European Community, brought about by the Maastricht Treaty. Scepticism, justifiable scepticism, is on the increase.

"People feel that their governments have gone ahead too fast so that now the gap between government and people is too wide. Perhaps that is not surprising when in the modern political world European Ministers spend so much time in each other’s company: they get out of touch with the people and too much in touch with themselves."

Mrs Thatcher went on to make many more speeches in the Lords opposing Britain's increasing integration in the new European Union. There is no doubt that had she been around in 2016, she would have been very firmly in the 'Leave' camp for the EU Referendum!

After a series of strokes and the death of her husband, Denis, in 2003, Mrs Thatcher became much less active in public life. It was revealed in 2005 that she was suffering from dementia and her health became increasingly frail. She died on April 8th, 2013, after suffering another stroke.

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