On this day in history : 22nd November 1990 – Margaret Thatcher announces that she is standing down as the UK’s Prime Minister – after Michael Heseltine launched a challenge to her leadership….

Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, in 1925….

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Margaret Hilda Roberts, aged 12 or 13 in 1938 – Attributed to Mr. Lee – Public domain

She married businessman Denis Thatcher in 1959 and they became the parents of twins…. During the 1960s Mrs Thatcher progressed quickly through the ranks of the Conservative Party and it was in 1967 that she joined the Shadow Cabinet – sitting in opposition to Harold Wilson’s Labour Government….

A Conservative victory in the 1970 election saw Margaret Thatcher become Secretary of State for Education and Science in Edward Heath’s government…. Labour came back into power in 1974 and Mrs Thatcher acted as joint Shadow Chancellor…. She replaced Edward Heath as leader of the Conservatives in February 1975…. It wasn’t long before she became known as the ‘Iron Lady’ – a nickname she herself embraced and given to her by a Soviet journalist in 1976….

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Mrs Thatcher, late 1975 – Marion S. Trikosko – Public domain

In March 1979 Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan was defeated by a vote of no confidence and on May the 3rd a general election took place – which was won by the Conservatives, with a 44 seat majority in Parliament…. The following day Margaret Thatcher was sworn in – making her Britain’s first woman Prime Minister….

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Margaret and Denis Thatcher in Northern Ireland, late 1982 – OGL 3

In 1987 Mrs Thatcher was elected for a third term but soon began to alienate some members of her own party – particularly over her poll-tax policies and opposition to integrating Britain further into the EU…. The cracks began to appear and in 1990 she failed to win a majority in the Conservative Party’s annual vote for selection of a leader and so she withdrew her nomination…. Six days later John Major, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, succeeded her as leader of the Conservative Party and subsequently became Prime Minister….

Margaret Thatcher’s three consecutive terms in office made her the longest serving Prime Minister since 1827…. After retiring from the House of Commons she was given a life Peerage as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, Lincolnshire – which entitled her to sit in The House of Lords…. She died on the 8th of April 2013 following a stroke….

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The Right Honourable Baroness Thatcher – The Margaret Thatcher Foundation CC BY-SA 3.0

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