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British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis Thatcher are greeted by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau at a dinner in Toronto, Sept. 26, 1983. (Erik Christensen/The Globe and Mail)
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis Thatcher are greeted by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau at a dinner in Toronto, Sept. 26, 1983. (Erik Christensen/The Globe and Mail)

Other revelations from the Thatcher archive Add to ...

As part of a disaster-planning exercise during the height of the Cold War in 1983, both the Queen and Margaret Thatcher had prepared “doomsday” speeches. The scenario imagined the Warsaw Pact attacking Britain with chemical weapons and Britain declaring war and responding with a “limited yield” nuclear strike. In the drafted speech, the Queen denounced the “deadly power of abused technology,” lamented her beloved son Andrew on the front-line and struck a Churchillian note: “Whatever terrors lie in wait for us all the qualities that have helped to keep our freedom intact twice already during this sad century will once more be our strength.”

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German Chancellor Helmut Kohl confided in Mrs. Thatcher that he wanted to expel half the Turks from his country in the period of four years by paying them to leave.

Citing forced marriage and illegal unemployment as the sore spots, he told her that “[it] was impossible for Germany to assimilate the Turks in their present numbers.” Bonn hoped that a one-time payment of 10,500 marks and reimbursement of their retirement insurance payments would entice Turks to return home.

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At the peak of her standoff with striking coal miners 1982, Mrs. Thatcher held secret talks about deploying the military in a possible full-scale clash with union leader Arthur Scargill. Concerned that stocks of essential materials at power stations would run out as a result of a major walkout by coal workers and that two of Britain’s biggest car factories could only continue production for up to six weeks, troops could have been called in to move the coal.

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In an environmental plan that could have been cribbed from a playbook from Communist China, British government officials considered blowing up the barriers around the Thames in Essex and Kent in order to stop central London from being swamped by a tidal surge.This was during a dock strike in 1982 that held up parts needed for the completion of the Thames defence downstream. The proposal detailed how there would be hundreds of casualties and deaths, polluted water, electricity failure, structural damage, disrupted telephone communications as well as a risk of looting and other outbreaks of civil disorder. It goes on to state “substantial parts of the flood area would be virtually uninhabitable and mass evacuation may be needed.”

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The U.K. dispatched a laser weapon made to “dazzle” Argentine pilots during the Falklands. However, the hastily developed device was never used during the 1982 conflict. Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine wrote that knowledge of the device, designed to deal with low-flying aircraft, had been kept to a “very restricted level.”

Staff, with files from the Daily Telegraph, BBC.com and Der Spiegel

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