Margaret Thatcher Dead: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown And John Major Pay Tribute

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Former British prime ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Major have paid tribute to Margaret Thatcher, following news of her death on Monday.

Blair said Thatcher was "a towering political figure" and acknowledged she reframed the political debate in the UK and influenced the creation of New Labour.

"Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast," he said.

"And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour Government, and came to be implemented by governments around the world.

"As a person she was kind and generous spirited and was always immensely supportive to me as Prime Minister although we came from opposite sides of politics.

"Even if you disagreed with her as I did on certain issues and occasionally strongly, you could not disrespect her character or her contribution to Britain’s national life. She will be sadly missed."

And Gordon Brown, who welcomed Thatcher back to Downing Street in 2009, said he and his wife Sarah had sent messages of condolences to her family.

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"She will be remembered not only for being Britain’s first female Prime Minister and holding the office for eleven years, but also for the determination and resilience with which she carried out all her duties throughout her public life," he said.

"Even those who disagreed with her never doubted the strength of her convictions and her unwavering belief in Britain’s destiny in the world.

He added: "During our time in Number 10, Sarah and I invited Lady Thatcher to revisit Downing Street and Chequers – something which we know she enjoyed very much. But it was sad for her and her family that she lost her devoted husband Denis almost ten years ago and that she was unable to enjoy good health in the later years of her retirement."

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John Major, who replaced Thatcher as prime minister and Tory in leader in 1990, said she was a "true force of nature".

"Her reforms of the economy, trades union law, and her recovery of the Falkland Islands elevated her above normal politics, and may not have been achieved under any other leader," he said.

"Her outstanding characteristics will always be remembered by those who worked closely with her - courage and determination in politics, and humanity and generosity of spirit in private."

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Leading Labour figures have steered clear of political point scoring following the news of Thatcher's death, with Ed Miliband acknowledging the former prime minister "defined the politics of the 1980s".

The Labour leader said while he disagreed with much of what she did it was possible to "greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength".

Miliband, who hopes to follow Blair and Brown into Downing Street in 2015 said: "She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain's first woman Prime Minister. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.

"The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.

"She also defined the politics of the 1980s. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I all grew up in a politics shaped by Lady Thatcher. We took different paths but with her as the crucial figure of that era."

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