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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
PREM19/1029 European policy (European Council meeting, Stuttgart, June 1983) (Part 16 (incorporating Part 14)) Begins: 1982 Nov 1 Ends: 1983 Jun 23 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 266
PREM19/1976 Spain (Internal situation; UK/Spain relations) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Mar 10 Ends: 1986 Feb 21 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 279
PREM19/1557 Kenya (State Visit to UK by President Daniel arup Moi, June 1979, and private visit, February 1980: meetings with Prime Minister) Begins: 1979 May 8 Ends: 1985 Jun 4 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 286
PREM19/3655 Disasters (Attack on Korean Airlines Boeing 747 by a Soviet fighter plane, 1 September 1983) Begins: 1983 Sep 1 Ends: 1983 Nov 1 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 194
PREM19/3218 Australia (Visit of the Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, to London, June 1989) (Part 2) Begins: 1988 Aug 30 Ends: 1991 May 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 196
PREM19/917 Security (Security at GCHQ: representations from Nicholas Edwards MP; untimely deaths of two GCHQ employees (Jack Wolfenden in an aircraft accident) and Ernest Peter Brockway (suspected suicide); question of a 'radio ham' who lived for 11 years with a translator at GCHQ) Begins: 1982 Nov 23 Ends: 1982 Dec 24 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 16
PREM19/581 Royal family (Visits to Northern Ireland by Princess Alexandra, June 1979 and June 1981) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1981 May 29 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 9
PREM19/3544 South Korea (UK/South Korea relations: internal situation) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Sep 11 Ends: 1991 Jun 17 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 255
PREM19/901 Saudi Arabia (Visit to UK by King Khalid of Saudi Arabia, June 1981: talks with Prime Minister) Begins: 1981 Mar 3 Ends: 1981 Aug 3 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 145
PREM19/2998 Germany (Internal situation in East Germany: policy towards German reunification) (Part 2a) Begins: 1990 Jan 5 Ends: 1990 Feb 15 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 299
PREM19/661 Arts and amenities (Royal Opera House development appeal; Prime Minister’s meeting with Lord Drogheda and Sir Claus Moser) Begins: 1980 Feb 18 Ends: 1982 Aug 9 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 127
PREM19/3199 Turkey (Prime Minister's visit to Turkey to attend the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign, April 1990) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Feb 28 Ends: 1990 Aug 13 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 178
PREM19/1288 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 17B) Begins: 1984 Oct 6 Ends: 1984 Oct 31 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 239
PREM19/274 Iran (Internal situation: relations with USA and UK following hostage taking at US embassy, Tehran; sanctions) (Part 4) Begins: 1980 Jan 9 Ends: 1980 Jan 30 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 213
PREM19/2825 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Paris for Anglo-French Summit, February 1989: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1989 Jan 20 Ends: 1989 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 62

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