FORMER British prime minister Lady Thatcher said yesterday the British retreat from the territory was a no-choice option and she hoped Hong Kong's way of life would continue. Speaking to three local television stations, Lady Thatcher said she would be sad to see the Union flag lowered at the handover ceremony. Responding to Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's recent criticism about miscalculations in the Joint Declaration, Lady Thatcher, who represented Britain at the signing in 1984, said that the agreement had represented the best deal possible. 'Mr Cook was not involved in the negotiations. We had real old China hands at the negotiations and this was the very best deal. If it is honoured, it would be very good,' she said. She criticised the provisional legislature and amendments to the Public Order and Societies ordinances as deviations from the spirit of the Joint Declaration. She would not attend the provisional legislature's swearing-in ceremony, she said. 'The Legislative Council will not continue and to me that is a breach of the agreement and that is very worrying indeed,' Lady Thatcher said. But the world would be watching to ensure the main body of the agreement was honoured and the rule of law continued. Recalling the meeting with Deng Xiaoping at the Great Hall of the People in 1982, Lady Thatcher said she was surprised at his determination to recover Hong Kong.