UK

Preparations Under Way For Thatcher Funeral As Parliament Recalled To Pay Tribute

09/04/2013 06:07 BST | Updated 08/06/2013 10:12 BST

Preparations for Baroness Thatcher's ceremonial funeral were under way today as MPs began planning tributes to her in Parliament.

The ex-prime minister's funeral is due to take place next week at St Paul's Cathedral with full military honours - the same status as accorded to the Queen Mother in recognition of her huge influence on the country.

Lady Thatcher's body was removed from the Ritz Hotel in London by private ambulance at about 12.20am following her death there yesterday morning.

Meanwhile, MPs are being recalled from Easter recess tomorrow to give them the chance to pay tribute to the former Tory premier.

The House of Lords has also been recalled on Wednesday and will sit at 2.30pm - the same time as the Commons.

But as tributes poured in from around the world for Britain's first and only woman prime minister, many on the Left condemned the social impacts of her policies encouraging the free market and stripping power from unions during her 11 years in office.

Last night, hundreds of cheering people held parties to "celebrate" her death in Glasgow and Brixton, south London.

But tomorrow the Government will put down a motion, which is expected to pay tribute to Lady Thatcher, according to the Speaker's Office.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to give a statement to the Commons, followed by Ed Miliband, the Labour leader.

There will be time for backbench MPs to make their own tributes to the former prime minister.

Mr Cameron yesterday cut short an official visit to Europe following Lady Thatcher's death, as Labour and the Tories suspended campaigning ahead of next month's key local elections. The Lib Dems are also not expecting to hold any events.

As Lady Thatcher's health deteriorated, the issue of whether she should be granted a state funeral - as Churchill was - grew increasingly controversial.

However, it has emerged that she rejected the idea herself, and also insisted she did not want her body to lie in state or money to be spent on a fly-past.

Instead, the streets will be cleared for a procession from Westminster to St Paul's, where there will be a televised service attended by dignitaries from around the world.

The funeral is expected to take place next week, the date for which has not yet been confirmed.

Friends and foes alike marked the end of an era after Lady Thatcher's death at the Ritz Hotel, where she suffered a stroke while recuperating following a minor operation.

The Queen was said to be "sad" at news of the death, while Mr Cameron praised her as a "great leader" and a "great Briton".

For Labour, Mr Miliband said she had "moved the centre ground of British politics", and Tony Blair credited her with changing the world.

Global leaders added their voices to the tributes, with Barack Obama saying Lady Thatcher had been a "true friend" to the US.

Former Conservative foreign secretary Lord Carrington, who resigned from Lady Thatcher's Cabinet in 1982 following criticism of British policy ahead of the invasion of the Falklands Islands described her as "the kindest woman" who was also a "remarkable prime minister".

But admiration for her was far from universal.

Respect MP George Galloway sparked anger by tweeting "Tramp the dirt down" - a reference to an anti-Thatcher Elvis Costello song from the 1980s.

And last night hundreds partied in the streets to "celebrate" Lady Thatcher's death.

Up to three hundred people assembled in Glasgow's George Square where in 1989 protests to the introduction of Lady Thatcher's poll tax took place. Some wore party hats and launched streamers into the air while a bottle of champagne was opened with a toast to her demise.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people gathered in Brixton - the scene of fierce riots in 1981 - two years into her first time in office.

At both impromptu events, people were chanting: "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, dead, dead, dead."

Lady Thatcher's place in the history books was secure as soon as she won the keys to Downing Street in 1979, becoming the UK's first woman premier.

But over the next 11 years she demonstrated that she had far more to offer than her gender.

Lady Thatcher suffered several small strokes in 2002, and stopped accepting public speaking engagements on medical advice.

Her increasingly frail condition when she was seen - especially after the death of her husband Denis in 2003 - led to frequent bouts of speculation about her health.

However, MPs and friends who saw her regularly said she remained alert and interested in politics until relatively recently. She was said to have been delighted that Mr Cameron, and before him, Gordon Brown extended invitations to visit 10 Downing Street and Chequers.

The Thatcher family has asked well-wishers to donate to the Royal Hospital Chelsea instead of leaving flowers.