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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 classification Pagessort ascending
PREM19/1697 Defence (Defence sales) (Part 7) Begins: 1986 Aug 1 Ends: 1986 Dec 24 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4755 Iceland (UK/Iceland relations: internal situations) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Feb 21 Ends: 1994 Feb 17 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3949 Social Services (Portable pensions for mobility of labour: retirement provisions) Begins: 1988 Dec 1 Ends: 1992 Jun 24 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/4040 Commonwealth (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association: annual conference) Begins: 1983 Jul 14 Ends: 1993 Apr 16 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
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
PREM19/3588 USA ​​​​​​​(Visit of William Casey, Director of Central Intelligence in Washington, and his successors)​​​​​​​ Begins: 1981 Feb 12 Ends: 1991 Nov 25 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/4329 NATO (NATO policy) (Part 2) Begins: 1990 Apr 10 Ends: 1993 Oct 12 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/3749 European Policy (Prime Minister's meeting with Sir James Scott-Hopkins, leader of European Conservative Group in European Parliament: meetings with the European Democratic Group of MEPs) (Part 3) Begins: 1988 Feb 1 Ends: 1992 Sep 21 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/2499 Security (RAF fixed telecommunications system) Begins: 1988 Mar 29 Ends: 1988 Jul 21 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/4460 Sweden (UK/Swedish relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 May 12 Ends: 1993 May 7 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2980 European Policy (Special European Council meeting, Dublin, April 1990; European Council meeting, Dublin, June 1990) (Part 36A) Begins: 1990 Feb 16 Ends: 1990 Jul 13 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2156 European Policy (European Council meeting, Brussels, June 1987) (Part 26) Begins: 1986 May 1 Ends: 1987 Jul 1 Date of release: 2019 Jul 18
PREM19/1631 Security (Security vetting: guidelines for Private Office posts) Begins: 1983 Jun 23 Ends: 1985 Jan 21 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/4143 European Policy (Aligning of summertime dates in the Community) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 May 3 Ends: 1993 Sep 22 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/1996 United Nations (United Nations financial crisis) Begins: 1986 Mar 7 Ends: 1986 Apr 28 Date of release: 2015 Dec 30