Thatcher papers reveal Tory split over Falklands

The then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pictured in April 1982. Credit: PA/PA Wire

Wide divisions within the Conservative Party over how the Government should respond to Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands have been revealed as Baroness Thatcher's private papers from 1982 were made public today.

While the Tories publicly presented a united front, briefing notes prepared for the then-Prime Minister demonstrate the polarised opinions she had to contend with in the early days of the crisis.

Until now, the backroom deliberations within the Conservative Party over the Falklands have remained largely private, but the notes are among those released by the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust as it opens its files from the year that came to define Lady Thatcher's career.

They range from Ken Clarke, then a junior minister, arguing to "blow up a few ships but nothing more" to West Devon MP Peter Mills who warned "my constituents want blood".

ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports:

Historian Chris Collins, from the trust, said the papers reflect the "chaos" within the party and more widely following the surprise attack.

"These papers reveal how stressful this situation was - it was a massive undertaking which tested her to the full", Mr Collins added.

A hand-written note by Baroness Thatcher also gives some hints to how she grappled with her response to the Duke of York's deployment as part of the Falklands task force.

The note - prepared after April 2, 1982, possibly in preparation for a speech - shows that Lady Thatcher settled on a brief but broadly supportive position.

"If asked about Prince Andrew it is the express wish of The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and of Prince Andrew himself, that if the Invincible sails he sails with her," she wrote.