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Thatcher 'would not have supported Brexit'

Margaret Thatcher would not have supported Brexit, or having an In-Out referendum on the EU at all, according to one of her most senior policy advisers.

Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher and deputy leader William Whitelaw during a Conservative Group for Europe Press conference in 1975 Credit: PA Archive

Lord Charles Powell of Bayswater, the former prime minister's closest foreign policy adviser while she was in Number 10, said Mrs Thatcher had "no truck" with referendums and wanted to change the EU from within.

Speaking to The Observer, he said the late leader would have "avoided getting trapped" by the referendum promise.

Of course she got fed up with [Europe], but I don't believe that as prime minister she would ever have campaigned to take Britain out of Europe, or had a referendum to allow that to happen.

She wanted to change Europe, and she set out to change it with great vigour, but I don't believe she would have chosen this way, and she would have avoided getting trapped by the referendum promise.

She never had any truck with referendums and frequently spoke out against them.

– Lord Charles Powell of Bayswater