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Boris Johnson: I was shocked by Thatcher’s attitude to hunger strikers

LONDON Mayor Boris Johnson has admitted that he found Margaret Thatcher's stand against republican prisoners on hunger strike "incredibly harsh" during his formative political years.

But the Tory mayor said the former prime minister's stance of refusing to give in to terrorists was a "very powerful one" and her logic could not be faulted.

He said Thatcher was "hewn of a different timber" from other politicians and was a "revolutionary" figure.

A total of 10 republican inmates starved themselves to death during protests in 1981 in an attempt to secure the status of political prisoners rather than criminals.

Thatcher's uncompromising policy over the hunger strikes in the Maze/Long Kesh prison defined her as a republican hate figure.

Mr Johnson, who was just 14 when Lady Thatcher entered No 10, told BBC Radio 4's The World At One: "She came to power when I was pretty young. I do remember being sometimes a bit, sort of, stunned. I thought the business with the IRA hunger strikers was very, very tough and I remember thinking 'what would I do if I was in Government at the time?'

"This was an incredibly harsh thing, it seemed to me, to allow people to die in that way. But on the other hand you could not fault her logic, you could not fault her consistency.

"And that point, that you shouldn't give in to terror, is a very powerful one and it's one that is still very relevant today."

Mr Johnson said the crowds gathered for the funeral saw Baroness Thatcher as a "liberator and somebody who was a revolutionary, somebody who allowed people to get on and up".

He added: "I do think people in 20, 50 years' time will see that she really was hewn of a different timber. She was presented with some very, very serious problems when she took the premiership and she overcame all of them."

Online Editors