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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?sort descending File classification Pages
PREM19/3625 China (Calls on the Prime Minister by the Chinese Ambassador) Begins: 1979 May 30 Ends: 1992 Mar 31 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 161
PREM19/3602 Aerospace (European Airbus: European Transonic Windtunnel (ETW)) (Part 3) Begins: 1987 Dec 3 Ends: 1992 Sep 3 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 332
PREM19/1293 Ireland (Hunger strike at the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland) (Part 6) Begins: 1981 Sep 1 Ends: 1984 Mar 5 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 106
PREM19/1810 Ireland (Meetings with the Taoiseach) (Part 13) Begins: 1985 Dec 1 Ends: 1986 Feb 14 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 316
PREM19/3102 NATO (NATO Summits) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Nov 27 Ends: 1990 Jun 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 370
PREM19/3254 Defence (Deployment of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) in Europe: nuclear deterrence in Europe) (Part 7) Begins: 1989 Jun 4 Ends: 1991 May 21 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 157
PREM19/2559 Turkey (Prime Minister's visit to Turkey, April 1988) (Part 1) Begins: 1988 Feb 1 Ends: 1988 Jul 4 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 192
PREM19/2228 Home Affairs (Women's National Commission) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1988 Jan 21 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential and Personal Pages: 306
PREM19/2891 USA (UK/USA relations) (Part 6) Begins: 1987 Jul 2 Ends: 1989 Mar 17 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 391
PREM19/1617 Royal Family (Queen's visit to army units in Germany, May 1984: possible threat from Irish terrorism) Begins: 1984 May 16 Ends: 1984 May 21 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 5
PREM19/1969 South Africa (Internal situation; relations with UK) (Part 12) Begins: 1986 Jul 16 Ends: 1986 Jul 31 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 266
PREM19/1566 Malaysia (UK/Malaysia relations: visit to UK by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, March 1983; meeting with Prime Minister) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Aug 28 Ends: 1985 Jul 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4
PREM19/3828 Israel (Internal situation: UK/Israel relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Feb 4 Ends: 1992 Jul 23 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 426
PREM19/1912 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Expo' 86 exhibition in Vancouver, Canada, July 1986: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1986 Jan 18 Ends: 1986 Aug 12 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 329
PREM19/3205 USA (Economic Situation) (Part 4) Begins: 1987 Apr 27 Ends: 1990 Jan 30 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 384

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