Britain's battle for EU budget rebate: How Margaret Thatcher 'handbagged' Europe 

Margaret Thatcher and French president Francois Mitterand at the June 1984 European Summit In Fontainebleau Credit: Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

When it comes to the history of Britain’s often testy relations with the European Union, there is no more emotive issue than Margaret Thatcher’s EU rebate.

A totemic win for British Eurosceptics, the rebate remains a source of still-fresh irritation to EU member states, more than 30 years after Mrs Thatcher secured it.

It was perhaps the biggest concession ever made by the EU, and certainly one of Mrs Thatcher's greatest achievements. It secured her place in British political lore - and when it came to handbagging EU leaders in Brussels, left future Tory prime ministers forever in her shade.

It was five months after being elected prime minister Mrs Thatcher declared in the 1979 Winston Churchill Memorial Lecture, that she would no longer act as "Sister Bountiful" to Europe.

"I cannot play Sister Bountiful to the Community while my own electorate are being asked to forgo improvements in the...

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