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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
PREM19/3982 USA (Visits to the UK by Vice Presidents of the USA, George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle) (Part 2) Begins: 1987 Aug 11 Ends: 1992 Feb 14 Date of release: 2017 Dec 29 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 247
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
PREM19/3317 European Policy (European Council meeting, Maastricht, December 1991) (Part 39) Begins: 1991 Jan 18 Ends: 1991 Nov 29 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 291
PREM19/814 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 10) Begins: 1981 Aug 24 Ends: 1982 Jan 27 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 262
PREM19/2547 Soviet Union (Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry: Prime Minister's interest in cases of Ida Nudel, Anatoly Shcharansky, Alexander Paritsky) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jun 25 Ends: 1987 Jan 23 Date of release: Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 331
PREM19/9 Commonwealth (Lusaka Heads of Government Meeting) (CHOGM) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 18 Ends: 1979 Jul 31 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 201
PREM19/1119 Royal family (Public memorial to Lord Mountbatten: statue unveiling ceremony, 2 November 1983) (Part 3) Begins: 1983 Oct 3 Ends: 1983 Nov 8 Date of release: 2014 Feb 14 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 137
PREM19/1408 Ireland (Prime Minister's meetings with Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald; Anglo-Irish Summits) (Part 7) Begins: 1983 Nov 1 Ends: 1984 Nov 23 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 495
PREM19/2446 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to France and Germany, March 1987: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1987 Mar 5 Ends: 1987 Mar 25 Date of release: 2016 Nov 7 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 30
PREM19/1783 Home Affairs (Civil disorder: the Handsworth and Tottenham riots) (Part 3) Begins: 1985 Oct 4 Ends: 1986 Mar 20 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 98
PREM19/3308 European Policy (European Community Budget: developments in the European Community) (Part 48) Begins: 1990 Nov 1 Ends: 1991 Feb 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 293
PREM19/2213 Guyana (Visits to UK by Guyanese Presidents Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte) Begins: 1980 Jan 11 Ends: 1988 May 11 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Confidential Pages: 219
PREM19/1425 China (Sino-British relations; defence sales) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Mar 19 Ends: 1985 May 31 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 236
PREM19/2285 Japan (Anglo-Japanese relations) (Part 7) Begins: 1987 May 6 Ends: 1988 Jun 30 Date of release: 2016 Nov 7 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Secret Pages: 285
PREM19/1299 Libya (UK/Libyan relations; threat to Libyan dissidents in UK) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Jul 9 Ends: 1984 Mar 23 Date of release: 2014 Jan 3 Any docs withheld? 4 File classification: Top Secret Pages: 151

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