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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
PREM19/2493 Security (Links between Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and other terrorist organisations: People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine operations in London) Begins: 1979 Sep 28 Ends: 1988 Mar 17 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/4502 Vanuatu (UK/Vanuatu relations: internal situation) (Part 1) Begins: 1980 Jul 29 Ends: 1993 Apr 27 Date of release: 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2974 European Policy (European Community budget: developments in the European Community) (Part 44) Begins: 1989 Nov 30 Ends: 1990 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3929 Saudi Arabia (UK/Saudi relations: internal situation) (Part 5) Begins: 1990 Apr 6 Ends: 1992 Jun 29 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2975 European Policy (European Community budget: developments in the European Community) (Part 45) Begins: 1990 Mar 2 Ends: 1990 Apr 27 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2137 Energy (North Sea oil prices; petrol prices; world oil market) (Part 3) Begins: 1986 Feb 4 Ends: 1987 Feb 28 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/4106 Energy (North Sea oil prices: petrol prices; world oil market) (Part 4) Begins: 1987 Mar 6 Ends: 1993 Sep 30 Date of release: 2018 Jul 24
PREM19/3434 Malaysia (UK/Malaysia relations: internal situation) (Part 4) Begins: 1989 Nov 6 Ends: 1991 Nov 29 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2813 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's attendance at the International Democrat Union (IDU) Conference in Tokyo, September 1989, and meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, September 1989: administrative arrangements) Begins: 1988 Dec 14 Ends: 1989 Nov 24 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2161 European Policy (European Council meeting, Rhodes, December 1988) (Part 30) Begins: 1988 Oct 24 Ends: 1988 Dec 22 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2800 Police (Police pay) (Part 2) Begins: 1985 Mar 1 Ends: 1989 Jul 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2791 Nigeria (Visit to UK by President Babangida, May 1989) (Part 2) Begins: 1989 Mar 8 Ends: 1989 Jun 12 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1985 Trade (Commodity policy; International Tin Agreement and International Tin Council; implications of difficulties in tin market for Cornish tin mines; Select Committee report on the tin crisis; renegotiation of International Natural Rubber Agreement) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Feb 5 Ends: 1986 May 30 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/607 Defence (Nuclear release procedures; understandings between the USA and UK on use of nuclear weapons and bases) (Part 2) Begins: 1980 Apr 29 Ends: 1981 Mar 9 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2510 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 11) Begins: 1988 Apr 7 Ends: 1988 Sep 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department

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