Mrs Thatcher promptly invited the President-elect to visit Britain in an exceptionally warm message of congratulation sent yesterday morning. And she suggested she would be seeing him soon after his inauguration in the new year. She is expected to visit Washington in February.
The Prime Minister had stayed up working until 3 am, according to officials, and had listened to broadcast reports of what was indisputably “her” candidate's triumph.
Predictably, the Labour Opposition's reaction was less enthusiastic. Mr Peter Shore, shadow spokesman on foreign affairs, expressed concern, in broadcast interview comments, about some of Mr Reagan 's foreign policy campaign statements. More seriously he deplored what he called the “primitive” economic policies espoused by the Republican. If they were implemented, he foresaw a dangerous deepening of the world recession.
Mr Reagan had been a film hero in Mrs Thatcher's girlhood. They apparently struck up instant rapport when they first met in April, 1975, in London, soon after she deposed Mr Heath, and when he was preparing to do the same to Mr Gerald Ford.
The Prime Minister's message to Mr Reagan read:
“May I send you my warmest congratulations, and those of my colleagues in the British Government, on your victory in the presidential election? Remembering our meeting in London in 1978, I look forward to working closely with you and with your colleagues in your new Administration. You will be assuming the presidency at a time when the close friendship between our two countries can. I believe, play a crucial role in strengthening cooperation within the alliance. I look forward to an early opportunity of discussing with you the urgent problems which we all face. I hope you already know that you will receive the warmest welcome from both the Government and the people of this country when you can find an opportunity to visit Britain, which I hope will be soon.”