MP boycotts Thatcher debate over Yorkshire pit closures

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A YORKSHIRE MP said today that he would boycott Parliamentary tributes to Baroness Thatcher, accusing David Cameron of hijacking her death for political gain.

John Healey, who was treasury and housing minister in the Blair and Brown years, said the Prime Minister was using Parliament as a platform for Tory Party ideology.

John Healey, MP

John Healey, MP

Mr Cameron has recalled MPs early from their Easter break to “consider the matter of tributes” to Lady Thatcher.

Tributes will also be paid by peers in the Lords.

Mr Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne in South Yorkshire, an area hit hard by coal mine closures, said Mr Cameron’s references to the Lady Thatcher’s economic reforms in his tribute to her on Monday were “partisan” and “divisive”.

Writing on the PoliticsHome website, Mr Healey said: “Parliament is being used today for narrow political gain by the Prime Minister, as a platform for his party’s ideology not just eulogy.”

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

He went on: “He’s wrong to recall Parliament, and wrong to hijack it in this way. I will play no part and I will stay away, with other things to do at home in the constituency.”

Mr Healey said today’s Commons session would not be balanced as there would be no opportunity to debate Lady Thatcher’s legacy.

He said her ceremonial funeral next Wednesday was “a full-scale state funeral in all but name”, adding that “her legacy is too bitter to warrant this claim to national mourning”.

Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the taxpayer contribution to the funeral of Lady Thatcher and the costs of today’s debate.

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

He said Britain could “afford” to cover some of the costs of next week’s events.

Speaking on BBC One’s Breakfast programme, Mr Hague said: “It’s right Parliament meets and commemorates such a leader of historic proportions in our country’s history.

“She changed the course of our history and there have been many comments over the last few days from all corners of the political spectrum.

“When it comes to money, the rebate she negotiated for this country from the EU has brought us so far £75 billion - which is twice the size of our annual defence budget.

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

“I think that puts money in perspective... so I think we can afford to contribute to a funeral.”

Lady Thatcher’s family is also meeting an unspecified amount of the funeral cost.

Mr Hague said he believed many people on the left’s biggest problem with Lady Thatcher was “they could never beat her”.

“They claimed to stand for millions of people but they could never get as many votes as Mrs Thatcher in an election,” he said.

Baroness Thatcher would have been “honoured and humbled” by the presence of the Queen at her funeral, her son said today.

Sir Mark Thatcher said his mother had been blessed with “a long life, and a very full one”, but her death was “without doubt a very sad moment”.

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

“We have quite simply been overwhelmed by messages of support, condolence, of every type, from far and wide, and I know that my mother would be pleased they have come from people of all walks of life,” he said.

Sir Mark’s tribute came as Downing Street today revealed details of the former prime minister’s ceremonial funeral - which is to involve more than 700 Armed Forces personnel, and feature the units involved in the Falklands conflict.

Speaking outside his mother’s home in Belgravia, central London, Sir Mark, who is thought to have flown back to the UK last night, said the family are proud and grateful that the Queen is to attend his mother’s funeral.

“I know my mother would be greatly honoured as well as humbled by her presence,” he said.

“By any measure, my mother was blessed with a long life, and a very full one.

“However the inevitability or the inevitable conclusion may appear of the recent illness that she suffered, it is no easier for us to bear in what is without doubt a very sad moment.

“We have quite simply been overwhelmed by messages of support, condolence of every type from far and wide and I know that my mother would be pleased they have come from people of all walks of life.

“These messages often convey personal stories and vignettes of part of the journey of my mother’s life and we are all enormously grateful for the warmth that these messages convey and they will be a source of encouragement and strength as we face the inevitable days ahead and for that I am most grateful.”

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87

Margaret Thatcher has died at 87