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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 classificationsort descending Pages
PREM19/1965 South Africa (Internal situation; relations with UK) (Part 8) Begins: 1985 Nov 1 Ends: 1986 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19 Any docs withheld? 7 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 459
PREM19/3208 USA (Prime Minister's visits to the USA) (Part 10) Begins: 1990 Sep 21 Ends: 1990 Dec 28 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 6 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 175
PREM19/1182 Defence (Deployment of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) in Europe) (Part 4) Begins: 1983 Sep 21 Ends: 1984 Jun 29 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 369
PREM19/1154 Zimbabwe (Internal situation; trial of air force officers on sabotage charges; sale of Hunter aircraft; British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT); status of Joshua Nkomo in UK) (Part 3) Begins: 1982 Dec 1 Ends: 1983 Oct 28 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 308
PREM19/1496 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to South-East Asia, April 1985) (Part 1) Begins: 1984 Dec 13 Ends: 1985 Mar 21 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 2 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 334
PREM19/685 Defence (Supply of highly enriched uranium (HEU)) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jul 3 Ends: 1982 Jun 16 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 137
PREM19/1587 New Zealand (Visits to UK by Prime Ministers Robert Muldoon and David Lange) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1985 Mar 4 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 283
PREM19/872 Poland (Internal situation; state of emergency - martial law; possible measures to be taken against Poland and Soviet Union) (Part 6) Begins: 1982 Jan 6 Ends: 1982 Jan 21 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 230
PREM19/2773 Middle East (Situation in the Middle East) (Part 19) Begins: 1989 Jan 3 Ends: 1989 Nov 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 19 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 320
PREM19/1497 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to South-East Asia, April 1985) (Part 1) Begins: 1985 Apr 1 Ends: 1985 Apr 4 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 9 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 146
PREM19/3651 Defence (Prime Minister's meeting with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, October 1986: memorandum on 'The Defence of Europe in the Nuclear Age') Begins: 1986 Sep 26 Ends: 1987 Jan 20 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 45
PREM19/2529 Soviet Union (Prime Minister's visit to Soviet Union, March-April 1987) (Part 1) Begins: 1987 Jan 5 Ends: 1987 Mar 31 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 603
PREM19/657 Argentina (Falkland Islands Review Committee (Franks): documentation seen by PM, extracted from PREM19 files and copied to the Committee) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 Jan 7 Ends: 1982 Apr 2 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 119
PREM19/1404 USA (UK/USA relations) (Part 2) Begins: 1982 May 10 Ends: 1984 Feb 28 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 305
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

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