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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 16:49 GMT
Thatcher cancels visits over illness
Lady Thatcher
Lady Thatcher had been advised to "take it easy"
Doctors have told Baroness Thatcher to cancel her engagements for the next few days after the former prime minister felt ill on Tuesday morning.

Lady Thatcher's office said the Conservative peer had been advised to "take things easy" but there was no question of her needing to go to hospital.

She did a normal day's work today and has only just left to go home

Lady Thatcher's office
The news comes in the week the ex-premier stirred political controversy by urging a British retreat from the European Union.

Lady Thatcher's office said: "She was feeling unwell and as she hardly ever feels unwell, she decided to go to the doctor.

"He thought it was sensible that she did not fulfil an engagement scheduled for this evening and that she take it easy for a few days.

"However, she did a normal day's work today and has only just left to go home."

There were reports this month that Lady Thatcher is planning to withdraw from public life at the end of this year.

The Sunday Express newspaper said she had been experiencing problems with concentration, short-term memory and hearing.

Minor stroke

Late last year, while on holiday in Madeira to celebrate her golden wedding anniversary with husband Sir Denis, Lady Thatcher suffered a minor stroke.

Her daughter Carol told the BBC that she thought it was "very, very minor".

Lady Thatcher had not been known to have suffered from any serious health problems before, although in 1994 she collapsed while making a speech in Chile due to a stomach upset.

Now 76-years-old, she fell from power in 1990 after being the UK's prime minister for 11 years.

She recently turned down an invitation to go to the Falklands to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War because she did not think her husband, Sir Denis, was fit for the long trip.

New European broadside

In a letter to the South Atlantic islands' governor, she said: "Though I am still fit and well, I feel that the journey, which would be far too gruelling even for me, would be far too much for Denis and I know that he would not wish me to go without him."

Her new book Statecraft has been serialised by the Times newspaper this week.

In it, Lady Thatcher argues the UK should renegotiate its terms of EU membership.

She stops short of advocating withdrawal but says that option should not be dismissed.

The BBC's Nick Jones
"It follows reports that she intends to scale down her commitments"

Thatcher's view
Should the UK's EU membership be renegotiated?
See also:

18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher's Euro bombshell
13 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher rejects Falklands trip
18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher urges 'retreat' from EU
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