Foreign Office staff thought Margaret Thatcher was smarter than Ronald Reagan – FCO files

Written by Jonathan Owen on 25 August 2016 in News

Newly-released Foreign Office papers show "laid back" US President was seen as "not on an intellectual par" with the UK prime minister

US President Ronald Reagan was not as intelligent as British prime minister Margaret Thatcher but his strengths included “abundant common sense” and being in tune with ordinary Americans, according to Foreign Office officials.

In a confidential memo, released by the FCO to the National Archives today, summarising a meeting between the two leaders in June 1984, an official from the FCO’s North America Department commented: “Even if he made little contribution to the discussion and was not on an intellectual par with the prime minister, he had two important strengths.”

They added: “First he had a sound political instinct which responded to the majority of what ordinary Americans felt. Secondly he had abundant common sense. He was very definitely in charge, albeit in a very laid back Californian way.”

More stories from the FCO Files:
Diplomats asked to dig up info on Geoffrey Howe's dinner guests, FCO papers reveal
Thatcher kept FCO officials in the dark over Reagan security briefing, new files show
FCO files reveal British officials were ordered to thwart Yasser Arafat visit
Libyan Embassy siege prompted major shake-up of Whitehall's counter-terror team, new files reveal

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