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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 Endssort descending Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/2686 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to Morocco, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Namibia, March-April 1989) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Mar 22 Ends: 1989 May 16 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2890 USA (Visits to UK by President Bush, May-June 1989 and July 1991) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Mar 28 Ends: 1991 Aug 12 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 165
PREM19/4042 Cyprus (Internal situation/relations) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Apr 1 Ends: 1993 Feb 28 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2655 Environmental Affairs (Environmental policy: environmental pollution: climate change; Prime Minister's seminar on the global climate, April 1989) (Part 9) Begins: 1989 Apr 2 Ends: 1989 Apr 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 511
PREM19/2869 Soviet Union (Visit to the UK by President Gorbachev, 5-7 April 1989) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Apr 2 Ends: 1989 May 3 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 404
PREM19/3193 Transport (London Regional Transport: Central London Rail Study) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Apr 3 Ends: 1990 Apr 19 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Secret Pages: 278
PREM19/2617 Defence (Deployment of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) in Europe) (Part 6) Begins: 1989 Apr 3 Ends: 1989 May 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2644 Education (General policy on education) (Part 21) Begins: 1989 Apr 3 Ends: 1989 Jun 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2678 Food (Food safety) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Apr 3 Ends: 1989 Jun 30 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3245 Commonwealth (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 1993 and the UK's bid to host it) Begins: 1989 Apr 3 Ends: 1991 Jul 24 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Confidential Pages: 10
PREM19/2756 Legal Procedure (Review of the legal profession: legal reforms) (Part 3) Begins: 1989 Apr 4 Ends: 1989 Nov 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2860 South Africa (Internal situation: relations with UK) (Part 19) Begins: 1989 Apr 6 Ends: 1989 Aug 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 12 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 330
PREM19/2826 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to the NATO Summit, Brussels, May 1989: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Apr 6 Ends: 1989 Jun 2 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3107 Parliament (House of Commons procedure: Select Committees) (Part 10) Begins: 1989 Apr 7 Ends: 1990 May 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 File classification: Confidential - not for NAO eyes Pages: 397
PREM19/3352 Germany (Prime Minister's meetings with Chancellor Kohl in Germany​​​) (Part 8) Begins: 1989 Apr 10 Ends: 1991 Feb 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Secret Pages: 215

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