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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
PREM19/1760 France (Anglo-French relations) (Part 3) Begins: 1985 Jul 4 Ends: 1986 Oct 23 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 204
PREM19/1635 Security (Prime Minister's visit to Century House (SIS headquarters), September 1984) Begins: 1984 Sep 5 Ends: 1984 Oct 8 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 10
PREM19/1505 Foreign Policy (British policy in the Antarctic) Begins: 1980 Dec 5 Ends: 1985 Aug 16 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 197
PREM19/3641 Defence (Basing of United States Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in the UK) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Apr 18 Ends: 1992 May 20 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 114
PREM19/1382 Security (Oleg Bitov, Soviet defector; Bitov's return to Moscow) Begins: 1983 Oct 21 Ends: 1984 Sep 17 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 19
PREM19/2053 Defence (Arms control) (Part 10) Begins: 1986 Dec 1 Ends: 1987 Mar 10 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 261
PREM19/3080 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 27) Begins: 1990 Sep 1 Ends: 1990 Sep 16 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 7 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 299
PREM19/2181 France (Anglo-French relations: French disruption of UK lamb trade; Anglo-French nuclear defence cooperation; Prime Minister Michel Rocard's environmental initiative) (Part 4) Begins: 1986 Nov 3 Ends: 1988 Nov 28 Date of release: 2017 Jan 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 339
PREM19/3837 Jordan (Illness of King Hussein) (Part 1) Begins: 1984 Jan 3 Ends: 1992 Oct 21 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 26
PREM19/3440 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 35) Begins: 1990 Dec 7 Ends: 1990 Dec 31 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24 Any docs withheld? 19 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 432
PREM19/2534 Soviet Union (Soviet military expenditure and capabilities) Begins: 1979 May 24 Ends: 1988 Dec 7 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 5 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 218
PREM19/979 Defence (Modernisation of Theatre Nuclear Forces (TNF) in Europe; proposed basing of United States Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in the UK; Geneva talks on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF)) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Oct 20 Ends: 1983 Sep 21 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 353
PREM19/1384 Security (South African diplomat accused of spying for Russia) Begins: 1983 Jan 19 Ends: 1984 Jan 23 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 36
PREM19/3545 South Africa (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 23) Begins: 1990 Jul 11 Ends: 1990 Dec 28 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 12 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 297
PREM19/1075 Lebanon (Internal situation; Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon; Beirut barracks bombing, 23 October 1983; UK/Lebanese relations) (Part 4) Begins: 1983 Sep 6 Ends: 1983 Oct 31 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 275

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