Emotional Henry Kissinger called to say it was worse than a extinction in the family and Soviet representative reported consternation

Margaret Thatchers acceptance as British “ministers ” prompted rips in Washington and fright in Moscow, according to trade secrets Downing Street file liberated on Friday.

Henry Kissinger call Downing Street in a very emotional state saying her decision to renounce was worse than a demise in the family, while Thatchers closest adviser, Charles Powell, told the US national protection consultant, General Brent Scowcroft, that her leaving was a sad commentary on conditions of love in politics.

The Downing Street file entitled The Resignation of the “Ministers “, Margaret Thatcher, includes homages from world leaders to Thatcher, a two-page information note from cabinet ministers secretary explaining why an immediate general election was not necessary, and a acceptance action plan setting out a timetable for the fateful epoch of 22 November 1990.

Thatcher on her judgement day in Downing Street. Picture: Martin Argles for the Guardian

It also contains a curious 1991 rebuttal by John Wakeham, then a cabinet minister, of charges in a forthcoming notebook by the writer Alan Watkins that he had purposely precipitated Thatchers downfall by establishing the procession of cabinet ministers who one by one informed her she would not prevail a second round leadership vote against Michael Heseltine.

Thatcher quit to leave the field clear for John Major and Douglas Hurd to fight off Heseltine, a move preserved by the Guardian that day under the headline: Battle to halt the usurper.

The cabinet records for 1989 and 1990 released at the National Archives at Kew on Friday also include the instants of Thatchers last-place cabinet gather, during which she said her consultations among peers had indicated that all were supportive but most thought that it was now unlikely she would triumph the ballot. Officially the hours record that the cabinet taken due note, with profound sadness, of the statement by the prime minister.

The files too contain newspapers from the October 1989 abdication of her chancellor, Nigel Lawson, which prove Thatchers principal private secretary, Andrew Turnball, informed her that she could swerve his resignation to her advantage by uncovering his policy of finding ways to get sterling into the European Monetary System by the back door by shadowing the Deutschmark despite her opposition.

Thatcher with Nigel Lawson. Photo: Manchester Daily Express/ SSPL via Getty Images

Thatchers departure was partially triggered by popular resentment over the canvas taxation, which she championed. It was seen as an attempt to alteration additional burdens of taxes from the rich to the poor and as an example of an increasingly dictatorial mode of leadership.

Geoffrey Howe renounced as deputy prime minister at the beginning of November in dissent over her European policies and in an agonising Commons addres indicated the time had come for party colleagues to consider their own response to the shocking conflict of allegiances with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long. Michael Heseltine then challenged her for the Conservative party leadership, triggering a competition from which she subsequently withdrew.

The Downing Street newspapers show that while Thatchers abandonment was regarded as a slow-motion gondola accident by those at Westminster, it was reacted with incomprehension in the wider world.

In Kissingers psychological phone call to No 10 he told Thatchers foreign policy adviser, Powell, that she had been one of the great digits of modern times and none outside Britain surely nobody outside Westminster could understand how your fellow Conservatives could have done this.

Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state. Photograph: PA

The feeling was even more acute in Moscow. The Soviet ambassador handed over a personal theme to Margaret from Mikhail Gorbachev pronouncing “and theres” amazement at the turn of events: Gorbachev had sent Shevardnadze[ his foreign minister] out of a high level session in the Kremlin to telephone him, to be informed about what on globe was going on and how such a thing could be conceivable, entered Powell.

The ambassador said that he had indeed obtained it very hard to explain. Indeed, there was a certain irony. Five years ago they had defendant coups in the Soviet Union and elections held in Britain. Now it seemed to be the other way round.

Thatcher with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. Image: AFP/ Getty Images

A Foreign Office review of Italian press reaction speaks several papers equated her to Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria and the general position is that she was a great commander returned down by her own intransigence. One Italian weekly, Panorama, took the position that although the domestic economy, the referendum tariff and Europe were major factors in her increasing unpopularity most British politicians acquired it intolerable that the status of women should continue to lead them.

The tributes are also noticeable for the personal words from the heads of the security services. Patrick Walker of MI5 thanks her for her reinforcement, particularly as the part one of the 1980 s with the Bettaney client and its consequence and the Peter Wright tale were not easy.

The Downing Street file reveals that while world leader were aloud singing her adorations her own cabinet peers were notably less effusive. A collecting among members of her last locker was organised by Ken Baker. It was enough to buy a duo of silver-tongued candlesticks. But her heir, John Major, agreed that the presentation is scheduled to take place softly in the lord chancellors accommodations at Westminster as this would be both less pain for her and likewise lure less advertising than an phenomenon for this purpose in No 10.


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