Margaret Thatcher's funeral set for Wednesday 17 April as stalwart Kenneth Clarke accuses left and right of peddling 'myths' over former prime minister

Debate over former prime minister's legacy intensifies as ex-chancellor says 'she took no notice of opinion polls'

Political Editor

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will be held next Wednesday, April 17, at St Paul’s Cathedral,  Downing Street announced today.

Number 10 said in a statement: “It was agreed this morning at the Government coordination meeting with the Thatcher family and Buckingham Palace that the funeral service of Lady Thatcher will take place on Wednesday 17 April at St Paul's Cathedral.”

Both the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will attend the ceremony, as well as dignitaries from around the world.

The streets will be cleared for a procession taking her body from parliament to St Paul's. She will be cremated at a private service afterwards. Parliament is expected to be suspended for the funeral, meaning the first Prime Minister's Questions session since the Easter break could be cancelled.

Meanwhile, the debate over Margaret Thatcher's legacy intensified today when Kenneth Clarke accused both the left and right of peddling "myths" about the former prime minister following her death yesterday.

Mr Clarke, who served as  a minister under Baroness Thatcher from 1979 until playing a key role in her enforced departure in 1990,  said she was not the right-wing figure portrayed by her left-wing opponents.  He declared that Britain would have been a "rust bucket ruin" if  she had not rescued the country's economy and said it was "a left-wing myth" that she destroyed manufacturing industry.

"She wasn't a right-wing ideologue at all, she had lots of incurable old wets like me in the Government," he said. "The country was on its knees when we took over - we were a laughing stock, an industrial, political laughing stock. And by the time she'd lost office, she'd transformed the country, given it back its self-confidence, given it a modern economy."

The Minister Without Portfolio, one of the few remaining pro-European senior Conservatives, insisted there was much more to Lady Thatcher than the Eurosceptic hailed by Tory Europhobes. "She was pro-European," he said of the woman who signed the Single European Act, which allowed the biggest extension of majority voting in EU decision-making. He claimed her landmark  1988 speech in Bruges, seen as a tablet of stone by Eurosceptics, would be regarded as "pro-European" if it were made  today.

Mr Clarke, the first Cabinet minister to tell Lady Thatcher she should stand down after failing to beat Michael Heseltine in the first round of the 1990 Tory leadership election, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I am almost amused….by the way she still polarises debate. The right and the left have created myths about her government. They are fighting them out over her memory.

"Some day somebody will have to write a sensible history of what actually happened. But this isn't the day. And it is a tribute to the woman who made more difference to life in this country than any politician in my lifetime - any peacetime politician. It was a privilege to work with her. Today is not the day to rewrite all these marvellous myths. It wouldn't have worked if it had been so simplistic as that. It actually did modernise and transform a failing country."

The former Chancellor added: "She gave us all the courage of our convictions. She took no notice of opinion polls, she didn't read newspapers, we argued ferociously about what was the right thing to do and then you got on with it. And she was extremely loyal to what you'd agreed to do. So it was very stirring to work for a conviction politician who was determined to make a difference."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas