Dorset's MPs have been paying tribute to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died of a stroke on Monday morning.

New Forest MP Desmond Swayne said: “I have very fond memories of Margaret Thatcher. I joined the Conservative Party in the mid-1970s when it was being transformed by her.

“She conveyed this sense that we were not a party not just trying to get into Government but that we had a mission to change Britain.

“She transformed the country and changed it forever. I am proud to say I am a Thatcherite and I believe the work she did will be remembered more fondly now than ever before.

“Politics today could do with more of what she had.”

Poole MP Robert Syms described the former PM as a 'warrior' politician who divided opinion. He said: “She was a formidable politician both on a domestic and the world stage.

"I was an active worker and councillor most of the time she was leader of the party and I only had the chance of meeting her two or three times, but she always impressed me.

"She had very clear views on the world and sometime when you're facing a difficult situation that's what the country needs. She left us stronger than when she came to office.”

Purbeck MP Richard Drax met Mrs Thatcher twice during his time serving with the Coldstream Guards and recalls her telling of a phone call with “Ronnie Reagan” during which she “gave him a lecture how her mother and father used to run their corner shop.”

He added: “Here was the most powerful man on the planet getting a lecture on basic economics and how to run a corner shop!”

He said she was “adored” by all ranks and said friends who served in the Falklands told him “one of the factors that got them through was knowing Mrs T wouldn't bend.”

“That was the great strength of the lady,” he added. She was a gut instinct politician - sadly something we lack nowadays. She was someone with clarity of vision, clarity of purpose and clarity of principle.”

“You didn't always necessarily like her, I know some people didn't - I personally did, but by God you respected her.”

North Dorset MP Bob Walter said: “Obviously I'm saddened by the passing of Baroness Thatcher. She really transformed both British Politics and the interaction between government and business during the 1980s. We should be extremely thankful for her - and I think she will always be remembered for that.”

“It was a watershed moment and many of the things she introduced during her government have been followed by governments around the world.”

He said he met Mrs Thatcher of “quite a few occasions” the last being two years ago and recalls she was still “bright” even with her failing health.

Poole Conservative councillor Peter Adams recalls: “She had a very difficult job. She has had an awful lot of criticism and harsh words but look at where we were in 1979 - I was working in industry at the time and it was very difficult with strong unions and currency inflation - and where we were after 11 years.

"The pride was back in the country and we had good discipline and great achievement. I think she changed the world. There were controversial things she did - but overall her achievements are way way ahead of the difficulties she had.”