North/south divide: Ilford MPs split on Margaret Thatcher in House of Commons debate

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87. Picture: PA

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Ilford MPs spoke in a debate in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon on the legacy of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Ilford North MP Lee Scott told the chamber he had received letters of condolence for Baroness Thatcher’s family from constituents of all political parties.

The Conservative said she had “inspired” him to go into politics.

He added: “She said to me: ‘If you have the desire to do it and want to work and help people, then do it’.”

Mr Scott said Lady Thatcher would “go down in history”.

He added: “Without any doubt [people] will remember Margaret Thatcher as a great Briton and somebody who saved our country.”

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes looked back at the politics of the 80s, when he was defeated as the Labour candidate for Ilford North in 1983.

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He went on to discuss Lady Thatcher’s foreign policy, supporting the decision to sign the Single European Act, which created a single market.

But Mr Gapes criticised her attitude to anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, who became South African prime minister in 1994.

He also said the decision to cut the foreign aid budget was “wrong”, as well as her opposition to the unification of East and West Germany.

Mr Gapes added: “She was vehemently against it, but as a result of that unification, and at great cost to the Germans in the west, we have seen the peaceful transformation of central and eastern Europe.”

Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith did not speak in the debate but has been invited to Lady Thatcher’s funeral as a member of the cabinet.

The funeral will be at St Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday after a procession through central London.

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