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THATCHER WON'T RUN FOR RE-ELECTION TO HOUSE OF COMMONS

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced Friday she will not seek re-election to the House of Commons, ending a 31-year career in Parliament.

"After the deepest consideration, I have decided not to stand in the next election," Thatcher said in a statement released by her office.Thatcher's announcement resolved a nagging problem for John Major, her handpicked successor whose leadership would be under a cloud as long as the "Iron Lady" was in the House of Commons backed by a group of diehard supporters.

In her announcement, the 65-year-old former prime minister thanked her constituents in the northern London suburb of Finchley and friends who had urged her to take a different course for their support.

Thatcher, who worked tirelessly to implement her hardline conservative views during 11 years as Britain's first woman prime minister, ruled out retiring from public life.

"I shall remain active in the House of Commons until the next election and thereafter in the political life of the nation, although in a different capacity," said Thatcher, who was prime minister longer than any leader this century.

She also vowed to support Major, whose administration she was sometimes suspected of undermining by her outspoken opposition to rapid European integration. "It is my purpose to continue to be a strong ally and friend to Prime Minister John Major and the governments he leads," she said.

A general election must be held by the end of 1992 and Major has indicated he will not call one before December.