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1990: Tearful farewell from Iron Lady

VIDEO : Thatcher makes her last speech as John Major becomes PM

Britain has a new prime minister for the first time in more than 11 years.

Margaret Thatcher formally tendered her resignation to the Queen early this morning after leaving Downing Street for the last time.

John Major was elected her successor yesterday by Conservative Party members.

The woman dubbed as the Iron Lady during her premiership made her last tearful speech as the leader of the country from the doorstep of Number 10.


"I wish John Major all the luck in the world"

Outgoing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Thatcher told reporters the country had become a much improved place in which to live since she took office in 1979.

"We're leaving Downing Street for the last time after eleven-and-a-half wonderful years and we're happy to leave the UK in a very much better state than when we came here," she said.

She also gave her support to her successor. "Now it's time for a new chapter to open and I wish John Major all the luck in the world," she said.

'Part of history'

After the speech she and her husband, Denis, were driven to Buckingham Palace, watched by a small crowd keen to witness this significant moment.

"It's part of history and we'd just like to say good bye and wish her well," said one onlooker outside the gates of the palace.

Mrs Thatcher had a half-hour meeting with the Queen before returning to her private home in Dulwich, south London.

Fifteen minutes later Mr Major arrived at the palace and was formally invited by the Queen to form a new administration.

The premiership of Britain's first female leader - and the longest since 1827 - was at an end.

In Context
Margaret Thatcher remained MP for Finchley until 1992.

But even after leaving Westminster she continued to be a formidable force in British politics.

Her appearances at Conservative Party conferences overshadowed successive Tory leaders years after her resignation, and she frequently spoke out to lend her support to the Euro sceptics.

Ill health forced the Iron Lady to abandon many of her public engagements in 2002.

John Major was prime minister until May 1997 when the Tories were ousted from power after a Labour landslide victory.

He stepped down as leader of the Conservatives shortly after losing the general election.


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