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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
PREM19/1394 Soviet Union (UK/Soviet relations; visit to UK by Mikhail Gorbachev, member of Politburo, December 1984; meeting with Prime Minister) (Part 3) Begins: 1984 Jun 4 Ends: 1984 Dec 22 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 411
PREM19/648 Argentina (Falklands: sensitive briefing) (Part 6) Begins: 1982 May 15 Ends: 1982 May 20 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 172
PREM19/3766 Germany (Visits to the UK by Chancellor Kohl) (Part 11A) Begins: 1990 Apr 2 Ends: 1992 Nov 6 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 229
PREM19/3077 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 24) Begins: 1990 Aug 20 Ends: 1990 Aug 23 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 370
PREM19/1302 Libya (Anglo-Libyan relations; aftermath of shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside Libyan People's Bureau, 17 April 1984; severance of diplomatic relations) (Part 3A) Begins: 1984 May 1 Ends: 1984 May 25 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 9 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 170
PREM19/1053 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 4) Begins: 1982 Nov 8 Ends: 1983 Feb 16 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 16 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 453
PREM19/926 Soviet Union (Relations between the UK and Soviet Union) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 23 Ends: 1982 Apr 5 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 214
PREM19/1240 (main part) France (Visits to UK by President Mitterrand; meeting of Franco-British Council; Prime Minister's meetings with Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy and Minister for European Affairs Roland Dumas) (Part 3) Begins: 1981 Sep 11 Ends: 1984 Feb 29 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 327
PREM19/649 Argentina (Falklands: sensitive briefing) (Part 7) Begins: 1982 May 21 Ends: 1982 May 31 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 92
PREM19/618 Argentina (Falklands) (Part 7) Begins: 1982 Apr 14 Ends: 1982 Apr 17 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 273
PREM19/1054 Hong Kong (Future of Hong Kong) (Part 5) Begins: 1983 Feb 17 Ends: 1983 Apr 19 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 11 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 317
PREM19/650 Argentina (Falklands: sensitive briefing) (Part 8) Begins: 1982 Jun 1 Ends: 1982 Jun 6 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 53
PREM19/496 Iran (Internal situation; US and UK relations with Iran following hostage taking at American embassy in Tehran; demonstration in Grosvenor Square by Iranian students; sanctions) (Part 8) Begins: 1980 May 28 Ends: 1981 Feb 17 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 302
PREM19/2913 Bermuda (Prime Minister's visit to Bermuda, April 1990: meeting with George H W Bush, President of the USA) (Part 1) Begins: 1990 Apr 4 Ends: 1990 Aug 17 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 9 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 270
PREM19/620 Argentina (Falklands) (Part 9) Begins: 1982 Apr 20 Ends: 1982 Apr 22 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 258

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