Margaret Thatcher “changed this country in so many ways”, according to Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said she was saddened by news the former Prime Minister passed away this morning, aged 87.

Baroness Thatcher served as MP for Finchley and Friern Barnet between 1959 and 1990, a patch partly covered by the Chipping Barnet constituency Ms Villiers serves today.

Conservative politician Ms Villiers said: “I know how hard she worked for her constituents during her years in Parliament.

“Despite all the demands of the role of Prime Minister, she would always make time for events and meetings in her constituency - hand-writing replies to many items of correspondence and dealing with her casework with real compassion.

“Many of Baroness Thatcher’s loyal local supporters are people I know well. Like them, I am saddened by today’s news.

“She changed this country in so many ways. Many of her reforms were controversial at the time but are now widely accepted as vital elements of a competitive economy, and her robust approach to defence and the Cold War won her praise from those in Eastern Europe as they emerged from domination by communism.

“I had the honour of meeting Baroness Thatcher on a number of occasions, particularly when she was catching up with old friends from her constituency, and my thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time for them.”