BARONESS Thatcher has died, aged 87, following a stroke.
The former prime minister, who had suffered bouts of illness for many years, was said to have died peacefully.
Her spokesman, Lord Bell, said: “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother, Baroness Thatcher, died peacefully following a stroke this morning.”
In a statement on the Downing Street Twitter feed, David Cameron said: “It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.”
Margaret Thatcher came to power at the end of the infamous Winter of Discontent in 1979 and spent the next decade curbing the power of trade unions.
Mrs Thatcher was the woman who, virtually single-handed and in the space of one tumultuous decade, transformed a nation.
In the view of her many admirers, she thrust a strike-infested half-pace Britain back among the front-runners in the commanding peaks of the industrial nations of the world.
Her detractors, many of them just as vociferous, saw her as the personification of an uncaring new political philosophy known by both sides as Thatcherism.
Tireless, fearless, unshakeable and always in command, she was Britain’s first woman Prime Minister - and the first leader to win three General Elections in a row.
Mrs Thatcher, who became Baroness Thatcher, resigned as Prime Minister in November 1990 after a year in which her fortunes plummeted.
It was a year in which she faced a series of damaging resignations from the Cabinet, her own political judgments were publicly denounced by her own colleagues, catastrophic by-election humiliations, internal party strife, and a sense in the country that people had had enough of her after 11 years in power.
But history will almost certainly proclaim her as one of the greatest British peacetime leaders.