Margaret Thatcher was prepared to do a deal with Argentina after the invasion of the Falklands over the status of the islands, including the question of sovereignty, as she came under intense pressure from the US to avoid a military response, government papers released on Friday reveal.
UK government declarations and rhetoric at the time gave the impression that nothing short of the withdrawal of all Argentinian forces, the reaffirmation of British sovereignty and a return to the position as it was before the invasion would be acceptable. But the papers show Thatcher and her senior ministers were privately adopting a more flexible approach, including allowing a continuing Argentinian presence on the islands.
Less than two weeks after the Argentinian invasion on April 2, 1982, Thatcher described a "diplomatic solution" as being "a considerable prize". Asked if she was prepared to cede sovereignty over the islands if the islanders agreed, she replied: "Yes". The disclosure that Thatcher was contemplating a peaceful solution to the dispute, even after the British taskforce had set sail, is contained in confidential annexes to cabinet minutes released under the 30-year rule.
Welfare state row
Margaret Thatcher, and her chancellor (finance minister) Sir Geoffrey Howe were behind a politically toxic plan in 1982 to dismantle the welfare state, newly released Downing Street documents show. Britain's then PM later attempted to distance herself from the plans after what was described as a "riot" in her cabinet.