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Thatcher, sharing the concerns of French President François Mitterrand,[251] was initially opposed to German reunification,[nb 8] telling Gorbachev that it "would lead to a change to postwar borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security". She expressed concern that a united Germany would align itself more closely with the Soviet Union and move away from NATO.[253] In March 1990, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl reassured Thatcher that he would keep her "informed of all his intentions about unification",[254] and that he was prepared to disclose "matters which even his cabinet would not know".[254]

We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level, with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels.[249]

Thatcher, sharing

Thatcher, sharing the concerns of French President François Mitterrand,[251] was initially opposed to German reunification,[nb 8] telling Gorbachev that it "would lead to a change to postwar borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security". She expressed concern that a united Germany would align itself more closely with the Soviet Union and move away from NATO.[253] In March 1990, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl reassured Thatcher that he would keep her "informed of all his intentions about unification",[254] and that he was prepared to disclose "matters which even his cabinet would not know".[254]

Thatcher was challenged for the leadership of the Conservative Party by the little-known backbench MP Sir Anthony Meyer in the 1989 leadership election.[255] Of the 374 Conservative MPs eligible to vote, 314 voted for Thatcher and 33 for Meyer. Her supporters in the party viewed the result as a success, and rejected suggestions that there was discontent within the party.[255]

During her premiership Thatcher had the second-lowest average approval rating (40%) of any post-war prime minister. Since the resignation of Nigel Lawson as Chancellor in October 1989,[256] polls consistently showed that she was less popular than her party.[257] A self-described conviction politician, Thatcher always insisted that she did not care about her poll ratings and pointed instead to her unbeaten election record.[258]

Opinion polls in September 1990 reported that Labour had established a 14% lead over the Conservatives,[259] and by November the Conservatives had been trailing Labour for 18 months.[257] These ratings, together with Thatcher's combative personality and tendency to override collegiate opinion, contributed to discontent within her party.[260]

Thatcher removed Nigel Lawson as Chancellor in October 1989,[256] polls consistently showed that she was less popular than her party.[257] A self-described conviction politician, Thatcher always insisted that she did not care about her poll ratings and pointed instead to her unbeaten election record.[258]

Opinion polls in September 1990 reported that Labour had established a 14% lead over the Conservatives,[259] and by November the Conservatives had been trailing Labour for 18 months.[257] These ratings, together with Thatcher's combative personality and tendency to override collegiate opinion, contributed to discontent within her party.[260]

Thatcher removed Geoffrey Howe as foreign secretary in July 1989 after he and Lawson had forced her to agree to a plan for Britain to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Britain joined the ERM in October 1990. On 1 November 1990, Howe, by then the last remaining member of Thatcher's original 1979 cabinet, resigned from his position as deputy prime minister, ostensibly over her open hostility to moves towards European Monetary Union.[259][261] In his resignation speech on 13 November, which was instrumental in Thatcher's downfall,[262] Howe attacked Thatcher's openly dismissive attitude to the government's proposal for a new European currency competing against existing currencies (a "hard ECU"):

How on earth are the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England, commending the hard ECU as they strive to, to be taken as serious participants in the debate against that kind of background noise? I believe that both the Chancellor and the Governor are cricketing enthusiasts, so I hope that there is no monopoly of cricketing metaphors. It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease only for them to find, the moment the first balls are bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain.[263][264]

On 14 November, Michael Heseltine mou

On 14 November, Michael Heseltine mounted a challenge for the leadership of the Conservative Party.[265][266] Opinion polls had indicated that he would give the Conservatives a national lead over Labour.[267] Although Thatcher led on the first ballot with the votes of 204 Conservative MPs (54.8%) to 152 votes (40.9%) for Heseltine and 16 abstentions, she was four votes short of the required 15% majority. A second ballot was therefore necessary.[268] Thatcher initially declared her intention to "fight on and fight to win" the second ballot, but consultation with her Cabinet persuaded her to withdraw.[260][269] After holding an audience with the Queen, calling other world leaders, and making one final Commons speech,[270] on 28 November she left Downing Street in tears. She reportedly regarded her ousting as a betrayal.[271] Her resignation was a shock to many outside Britain, with such foreign observers as Henry Kissinger and Gorbachev expressing private consternation.[272]

Thatcher wa

Thatcher was replaced as head of government and party leader by Chancellor John Major, who prevailed over Heseltine in the subsequent ballot. Major oversaw an upturn in Conservative support in the 17 months leading to the 1992 general election and led the party to a fourth successive victory on 9 April 1992.[273] Thatcher favoured Major in the leadership contest, but her support for him waned in later years.[274]

Thatcher returned to the backbenches as a constituency parliamentarian after leaving the premiership.[275] Her domestic approval rating recovered after her resignation, though public opinion remained divided on whether her government had been good for the country.[256][276] Aged 66, she retired from the House at the 1992 general election, saying that leaving the Commons would allow her more freedom to speak her mind.[277]

Post-Commons: 1992–2003

On leaving the Commons, Thatcher became the first former British prime minister to set up a f

On leaving the Commons, Thatcher became the first former British prime minister to set up a foundation;[278] the British wing of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation was dissolved in 2005 due to financial difficulties.[279] She wrote two volumes of memoirs, The Downing Street Years (1993) and The Path to Power (1995). In 1991 she and her husband Denis moved to a house in Chester Square, a residential garden square in central London's Belgravia district.[280]

Thatcher was hired by the tobacco company Philip Morris as a "geopolitical consultant" in July 1992, for

Thatcher was hired by the tobacco company Philip Morris as a "geopolitical consultant" in July 1992, for $250,000 per year and an annual contribution of $250,000 to her foundation.[281] Thatcher earned $50,000 for each speech she delivered.[282]

Thatcher became an advocate of Croatian and Slovenian independence.[283] Commenting on the Yugoslav Wars, in a 1991 interview for Croatian Radiotelevision, she was critical of Western governments for not recognising the breakaway republics of Croatia and Slovenia as independent and for not supplying them with arms after the Serbian-led Yugoslav Army attacked.[284]

In August 1992 she called for NATO to stop the Serbian assault on Goražde and Sarajevo, to end ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian War, comparing the situation in Bosnia–Herzegovina to "the barbarities of Hitler's and Stalin's".[285]