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British parliament holds tribute session for Thatcher


08:22, April 11, 2013

LONDON, April 10 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron led parliament in a special session of tributes to Margaret Thatcher on Wednesday, calling the divisive former prime minister an "extraordinary leader and an extraordinary woman."

Thatcher, Britain's first female prime minister and longest serving premier of the 20th century, died on Monday aged 87 after suffering a stroke. She had suffered dementia for more than a decade.

Cameron opened the tribute session in the Commons, saying, "She made the political weather, she made history, and -- let this be her epitaph -- she made our country great again."

Supporters say Thatcher's free-market reforms made Britain stronger and hail her leadership during the Falklands War (the Malvinas War) with Argentina, while critics complain her economic policies and battles with the trade unions destroyed millions of lives.

The special tribute session, however, came under criticism from some members of the Labor opposition. Labor leader Ed Miliband acknowledged her impact on Britain, but said he had disagreed with much of what she did.

"Whatever your view of her, Margaret Thatcher was a unique and towering figure," he said in answer to Cameron's comments.

In a statement made to the public, Thatcher's son Mark Thatcher said his twin sister Carol and the rest of their family had been "overwhelmed" by messages of support they had received from around the globe.

Mark said Thatcher would have been "greatly honored" by Queen Elizabeth II's decision to attend her funeral next Wednesday, a rare honor from the monarch only accorded to Winston Churchill.

The funeral for Margaret Thatcher will be held at St Paul's Cathedral in London next Wednesday.

It is reported Queen Elizabeth II will lead mourners at the funeral, the first time the monarch will have attended the ceremony of one of her former prime ministers since Winston Churchill died in 1965.

Security for the funeral is likely to be extremely tight with fears of disruption by Irish republican dissidents and far-left groups. Police are also reportedly bracing for a possible "lone wolf" attack.

Concerns about potential violence rose after trouble erupted at several street parties celebrating her death on Monday night in London, Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow.

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