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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 releasesort descending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3399 Iraq (Imprisonment of British citizens in Iraq) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Aug 1 Ends: 1991 Feb 22 Date of release: Date of release: Retained under Sec 3.4 (reconsideration in 2027)
PREM19/3083 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East: Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) (Part 30) Begins: 1990 Sep 26 Ends: 1990 Oct 8 Date of release: Date of release: Retained under Sec 3.4 (reconsideration in 2028)
PREM19/1738 Energy (Energy policy: nuclear power policy; proposed fast reactor plant at Dounreay; Sizewell Inquiry; fast reactor policy; structure of nuclear industry; international co-operation on fusion; safety in civil nuclear installations and nuclear electricity policy after Chernobyl) (Part 9) Begins: 1984 Dec 6 Ends: 1986 May 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained under Section 3.4
PREM19/2326 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 16) Begins: 1987 Mar 5 Ends: 1987 Sep 30 Date of release: Date of release: Review 2027 File classification: Retained under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2327 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 17) Begins: 1987 Oct 2 Ends: 1988 Feb 29 Date of release: Date of release: Review 2027 File classification: Retained under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2328 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 18) Begins: 1988 Mar 1 Ends: 1988 Dec 29 Date of release: Date of release: Review 2027 File classification: Retained under Sec 3.4
PREM19/1571 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 13) Begins: 1985 Jun 2 Ends: 1985 Sep 3 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily retained
PREM19/1501 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to Egypt and Jordan, September 1985: policy and briefing) Begins: 1985 Jul 15 Ends: 1985 Sep 29 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained
PREM19/1570 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 12) Begins: 1984 Jan 5 Ends: 1985 May 31 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily retained
PREM19/3592 Zimbabwe ​​​​​​​(Visits to UK by Prime Minister Robert Mugabe)​​​​​​​ Begins: 1980 May 1 Ends: 1991 Aug 22 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3436 Mauritius ​​​(UK/Mauritius relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Jun 1 Ends: 1991 Oct 10 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3634 Colombia (Internal situation: UK/Colombia relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Mar 1 Ends: 1992 Sep 30 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3893 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings with the Cabinet Secretary) (Part 1) Begins: 1984 Sep 1 Ends: 1992 Mar 9 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3984 USA (United States nuclear defence strategy: US defence policy) Begins: 1980 Aug 6 Ends: 1992 May 28 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3342 Foreign Policy (Summary notes on Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Assessments) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Aug 1 Ends: 1991 Feb 22 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department

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