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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
PREM19/1968 South Africa (Internal situation; relations with UK) (Part 11) Begins: 1986 Jul 1 Ends: 1986 Jul 15 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19 Any docs withheld? 9 File classification: Top Secret Cab One Pages: 248
PREM19/652 Argentina (Falklands: sensitive briefing) (Part 10) Begins: 1982 Jun 26 Ends: 1982 Sep 28 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 171
PREM19/3347 France (Visits to the UK by Jacques Chirac (Mayor of Paris / Prime Minister) and Michel Rocard (Prime Minister)) (Part 1) Begins: 1982 Jan 25 Ends: 1991 Mar 27 Date of release: 2017 Jul 20 Any docs withheld? 7 File classification: Top Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 340
PREM19/2182 France (Prime Minister's visits to France, November 1986 and March and July 1987) (Part 5) Begins: 1986 Oct 21 Ends: 1987 Oct 30 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Top Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 287
PREM19/973 Defence (Arms control) (Part 4) Begins: 1983 Jan 25 Ends: 1983 Nov 23 Date of release: 2013 Aug 1 File classification: Top Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 261
PREM19/2532 Soviet Union (Soviet economy: grain harvest) Begins: 1979 Dec 1 Ends: 1987 Jun 16 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Top Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 16
PREM19/1548 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 19) Begins: 1984 Dec 31 Ends: 1985 Mar 28 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 1 File classification: Top Secret UK Eyes A Pages: 366
PREM19/651 Argentina (Falklands: sensitive briefing) (Part 9) Begins: 1982 Jun 7 Ends: 1982 Jun 25 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Top Secret UK Eyes B Pages: 95
PREM19/2405 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with Dennis Canavan MP, 17 December 1987) Begins: 1984 Sep 11 Ends: 1988 Jan 11 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 62
PREM19/117 Rhodesia (Lord Boyd's Report on April 1979 election) Begins: 1979 May 16 Ends: 1979 May 16 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 74
PREM19/1755 European Policy (European Institute of Public Administration at Maastricht) Begins: 1981 Nov 19 Ends: 1986 Aug 18 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 17
PREM19/2293 Legal Procedure (Increase in number of Lords Justices of Appeal) Begins: 1987 Oct 21 Ends: 1987 Oct 22 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 7
PREM19/2659 Environmental Affairs (Benson Building, Islington) (Part 12) Begins: 1989 Jul 3 Ends: 1989 Jul 18 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 5
PREM19/373 Spain (EEC fishing licences for Spanish fishermen) Begins: 1980 Jan 28 Ends: 1980 Feb 8 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 18
PREM19/2294 Legal Procedure (Judges and the media) Begins: 1988 Mar 8 Ends: 1988 Mar 31 Date of release: 2016 Jul 21 File classification: Unclassified Pages: 10

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