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MT's official files as Prime Minister, 1979-90

MT's official files as PM can be read on this site as they are released, in full and free to all - the confidential files originally stored at No.10, the core record of her premiership.

The files have been copied at the British National Archives (TNA) at Kew in London and can be downloaded precisely as they appear in the reading room.

We are doing something more to help people make sense of this mass of information. The files are subject-based, logically enough, but that system makes it difficult to reconstruct the flow of paper across the Prime Minister’s desk at any point in time, depriving us of a sense of context and cross-winds, some of them overwhelming.

To combat this effect we are uploading a large selection of the most important documents from these files – thousands in total - to our powerful site database. You can search and sort by date, subject and other parameters, getting as close as anyone can now get to reconstructing the Prime Minister’s daily "Red Boxes", the rich diet of foreign and domestic policy papers submitted to her by the No.10 Private Office.

List and links to the PM’s files

Below are links to the downloadable files in numerical order. The subject terms are those used in the original filing system.

An average file has around 200 pages.

You can read here an account of how filing worked at No.10, and the system for archiving MT’s Prime Ministerial papers, both of which had their quirks.

Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Private Office files, 1979-1989

1979-89: Chancellor’s Private Office files [links to hundreds of digitised files from the Chancellorships of Sir Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson]

Engagement Diaries

An alternative way through the material is to read MT’s engagement diaries, jumping day to day.

The engagement diaries link directly to relevant documents in the site database, so this is a good way to recover the perspective from the Red Box.

File name Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classificationsort descending Pages
PREM19/3604 Aerospace (Space policy) (Part 4) Begins: 1983 Mar 3 Ends: 1992 Nov 9 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 212
PREM19/2938 Defence (Service exercises to test the transition to war and home defence procedures: Ministerial participation in NATO exercises) Begins: 1979 Jul 25 Ends: 1990 Nov 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 94
PREM19/1694 Defence (Arms control) (Part 8) Begins: 1986 Mar 5 Ends: 1986 Jun 27 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 321
PREM19/4131 European Policy (Enlargement of European Community: applications of Portugal and Spain; possible application from Turkey; accession of Greece) (Part 3) Begins: 1985 Sep 2 Ends: 1993 May 24 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24 File classification: Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 302
PREM19/1695 Defence (Arms control) (Part 9) Begins: 1986 Jul 1 Ends: 1986 Nov 28 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret UK Eyes Only Pages: 427
PREM19/2489 Security (Distribution of the Prime Minister's diary) Begins: 1981 May 13 Ends: 1988 May 24 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2199 Government Machinery (Special advisers; appointment procedure) (Part 3) Begins: 1984 Jan 12 Ends: 1987 Jun 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2530 Soviet Union (Prime Minister's visit to Soviet Union, March-April 1987: briefing for Prime Minister) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Apr 1 Ends: 1987 Jun 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2490 Security (Intelligence Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office: proposed appointment of the Sir Anthony Duff and his successors) Begins: 1980 Jun 18 Ends: 1988 Oct 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2579 Economic Policy (Inquiry into Barlow Clowes Group) Begins: 1988 Jun 13 Ends: 1988 Sep 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2753 Japan (Prime Minister's visit to Japan, September 1989) (Part 3a) Begins: 1989 Apr 27 Ends: 1989 Sep 15 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2531 Soviet Union (Policy towards the Soviet Union) (Part 1) Begins: 1987 Aug 1 Ends: 1987 Sep 8 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2493 Security (Links between Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and other terrorist organisations: People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine operations in London) Begins: 1979 Sep 28 Ends: 1988 Mar 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2536 Soviet Union (Soviet visa applications) Begins: 1979 Jun 13 Ends: 1987 Jan 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2538 Soviet Union (UK/Soviet relations; internal situation) (Part 6) Begins: 1986 Jun 2 Ends: 1987 Jan 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department

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