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Poor health silences Thatcher

Thatcher: Three time general election winner
Thatcher: Three time general election winner  

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Ailing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been told to quit public speaking on the advice of her doctors, her office has said.

A statement released by her office on Friday said Thatcher, 76, had suffered a number of small strokes over recent months, and doctors had told her they could neither be predicted nor prevented.

The statement said that "with great regret" Thatcher had decided to abide by medical advice and cancel all her speaking engagements.

The full statement from her office said: "Over recent months, Lady Thatcher has suffered a number of small strokes. After thorough investigation involving a number of tests, her doctors have told her that these can neither be predicted nor prevented.

"They have therefore told her to cut back her programme at once and in particular to avoid the undue strains that public speaking places on her.

"With great regret she has decided to abide by this advice and to cancel all her speaking engagements."

A spokesman at her office agreed that this meant there would be no more public speeches "ever."

On Tuesday Thatcher -- who once said "I love argument, I love debate" -- cancelled her engagements for the next few days on doctors' advice.

Her office said she had been advised to "take things easy" but there was no question of her needing to go to hospital.

It added: "She was feeling unwell and as she hardly ever feels unwell, she decided to go to the doctor.

"He thought it was sensible that she did not fulfil an engagement scheduled for this evening and that she take it easy for a few days."

A few weeks ago, she announced that she would not be attending the celebrations in the Falklands to mark the 20th anniversary of the islands' liberation from Argentina because the journey would be too much for her 86-year-old husband, Denis.

In a letter to the Falklands Islands' government she wrote: "Though I am still fit and well, I feel that the journey which would be gruelling even for me, would be far too much for Denis and I know that he would not wish me to go without him."

First woman leader

Iain Duncan Smith, leader of the Conservative Party that Thatcher led from 1975 to 1990, said: "I am saddened by the news that Baroness Thatcher is unwell and fully understand the reasons that she has been advised to withdraw from her public engagements.

"On behalf of the whole party I wish her and Sir Denis the very best and our thoughts and wishes for a speedy recovery."

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord, Tebbit said he had been concerned about her health for some time.

But he insisted the former Prime Minister was "still very alive" and it would not be the last people had heard from her.

He told the BBC: "The most remarkable thing about it was that she so often said things which people knew which were true but which they'd been trying to pretend weren't true.

"And that of course was what both delighted and enraged people, different people, at the same time."

Former Conservative Chancellor Lord, Lamont, said: "I am overwhelmingly sad at this news."

In January it was revealed Thatcher had suffered a minor stroke over Christmas.

Mark Worthington of the Thatcher Foundation said at the time that Thatcher was treated and released from a hospital in Portugal, where she had been on holiday, after undergoing tests.

Her daughter Carol told the BBC that she thought it was "very, very minor."

Elected as Britain's first female prime minister in 1979, Thatcher was forced from office in 1990 after losing support of the Conservative Party over differences on European Union policy.

Earlier this week she again stirred political controversy by urging a British retreat from the EU.

But that was after winning three general elections -- the only UK prime minister to achieve the hat trick last century -- and seeing the word Thatcherism enter the dictionary.

During one speech, she famously announced "The lady's not for turning," while in another she said: "In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman."


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