Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thatcher: First Female Prime Minister of UK - Part 4

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As she sought to change the affairs of his country domestically, she also made sure that Britain would also play key roles in the international issues, one of which was an issue that would bring the downfall of the Iron Lady. When Thatcher was prime minister, the Cold War was in its last stage. Also the issue of European integration was being widely discussed. The issue of European integration was so widely spoken that it caused a split within Thatcher’s Conservative Party. The split caused a rebellion that would cause the end of the Thatcher era.

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. His rise became a turning point in the Cold War that had being raging for more almost 40 years. Margaret Thatcher, a major player in the Cold War, visited Moscow in 1987. The end of the meeting of the two leaders resulted to both countries disagreeing to German Unification. They discussed about nuclear disarmament. Lastly, Thatcher concluded at the end of the meeting is that Mikhail Gorbachev was the man that the west can do business with. Surely enough, by 1990, the Cold War ended with the USSR collapsing and the free world and capitalism standing tall.

In the continental front, the matters were much complicated. In 1984 she negotiated for Britain to receive rebates from its contribution to the European community fund. She also showed publicly and supported widely the concept of a European single market which will benefit Britain. But one thing she would not stand for was the issue of European Exchange Rate Mechanism (the precursor of the Euro) and giving of more political concessions to Brussels. Thatcher stand firmly on her beliefs, but some in her cabinet wanted a closer integration with Europe. One of those cabinet members who supported closer integration was her deputy Prime Minister, Geoffrey Howe.

In November 1, 1990, Howe resigned from the cabinet of Thatcher and sparked a rebellion. On his resignation speech in the House of Common, he implicitly encouraged for someone to challenge Thatcher for the leadership. The speech was a shock to the parliament and to Thatcher. Reaction was swift, Michael Heseltine challenged Thatcher for the leadership of the party thus Prime Minister. Rather than campaigning for her victory, Thatcher decided to join a summit in France. While the summit was ongoing the result of the ballot came in. The result was that Thatcher won the vote but wasn't able to get the needed majority to avoid a second ballot.

Thatcher hastily returned to London to decide whether to continue to fight. She decided to consult, one by one, her cabinet members. Other factors were being considered. One was that the party will not win another election with Thatcher as their leader after an unpopular poll tax that she launched. The poll tax was so unpopular for the common people because it made an aristocrat and a commoner to pay a same amount of tax. The cabinet advised Thatcher to withdraw from the battle. Thatcher then did just that. In November 28, 1990, Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister, leaving John Major, her chancellor, as Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher left a different Britain from that when she entered Downing Street. His measures saved Britain from total collapse. She destroyed the unions that strangle the economy. Her privatization returned Britain to capitalism. Her economic policies would create what is now known as Thatcherism. But she became over confident in her abilities and made her too domineering for her companions. Also, her mismanagement about the issue of European issue caused her position.  In April 8, 2013, Margaret Thatcher died due to a stroke. She left a nation divided in opinion about her legacy as Prime Minister. Many loathed her but there are many who admired her.

See also:
Nicknames of Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher: First Female Prime Minister of UK - Part 1
Thatcher: First Female Prime Minister of UK - Part 2
Thatcher: First Female Prime Minister of UK - Part 3


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