LONDON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose conservative ideas made an enduring impact on Britain, has died. She was 87.
Thatcher’s former spokesman, Tim Bell, said that the former prime minister died Monday morning of a stroke.
Prime Minister David Cameron also expressed sadness, saying “we have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.”
Thatcher, the country’s first female prime minister, re-made Britain’s economic landscape after coming into office in 1979 with a free-market philosophy and the goal of privatizing state industries. And she would wage some hard-nosed battles with the country’s labor unions.
For admirers, Thatcher was a savior who rescued Britain from ruin and laid the groundwork for an extraordinary economic renaissance. For critics, she was a heartless tyrant who ushered in an era of greed that kicked the weak out onto the streets and let the rich become filthy rich.
Outside the British Consulate in Midtown East, the Union Jack has been lowered to half-staff.
British Consul-General Danny Lopez said Thatcher is being remembered “as a great Prime Minister, a great leader and a great Briton.”