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National Archives Thatcher chastised Major for ‘compassionate’ stance

MARGARET THATCHER reprimanded her successor John Major over his desire for a more “compassionate” brand of conservatism, according to documents newly released by the National Archives.

She also tore into him over his economic plans in a private meeting just weeks after she backed him to become prime minister following her shock resignation in November 1990.

Ms Thatcher warned him he was on the verge of a “historic error” that could plunge the country into recession.

During the meeting in Mr Major’s room in the Commons on January 3 1991, Ms Thatcher warned that “excessively high” interest rates risked pushing the economy into recession.

She even compared the situation to Winston Churchill’s decision as chancellor in 1925 to return Britain to the gold standard, which is believed to have led to deflation, mass unemployment and the general strike.

Mr Major claimed that the situation “was not remotely comparable.”

The released minutes of the meeting underline how quickly relations between the two soured after Ms Thatcher started to suspect that Mr Major wanted to abandon her legacy.

She was particularly angered by his decision to scrap her flagship local government funding reform, the so-called “poll tax,” even though its widespread unpopularity had been key to her downfall.


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