Margaret Thatcher believed South Africa should be a 'whites-only state', says UK's former chief diplomat

Shehab Khan
Margaret Thatcher meets Nelson Mandela after his release in 1990: PA

Margaret Thatcher believed South Africa should be a “whites-only state”, it has been reported.

The former head of the Diplomatic Service, Sir Patrick Wright, has made a number of explosive claims in his account of the former Prime Minister’s time in office.

Sir Patrick also said that Ms Thatcher “loathed” Germans and wanted to “push” Vietnamese boat people into the sea.

Extracts from his diaries have been published in the Mail on Sunday and include claims that Ms Thatcher expressed a desire for a “pre-1910” South Africa.

In the diary entry, Sir Patrick writes the conversation took place over a lunch he was invited to with Ms Thatcher. “She opened the conversation by thrusting a newspaper cutting about Oliver Tambo [ANC president] in front of us, saying that it proved that we should not be talking to him… She continued to express her views about a return to pre-1910 South Africa, with a white mini-state partitioned from their neighbouring black states.”

When Sir Patrick questioned the desire and said it would be an extension of apartheid, he said "she barked: 'Do you have no concern for our strategic interests?'”

Sir Patrick also claimed that Ms Thatcher was “at her worst” during the Vietnamese boat people crisis in 1989.

About 70,000 Indochinese boat people fled Vietnam after the Vietnam War and arrived in five Southeast Asian countries and Hong Kong.

Ms Thatcher apparently favoured a policy of “pushing off” Vietnamese boat people and refusing to allow them to land.

The diary extracts also talk of Ms Thatcher's "Germanophobia".

“She seems to be obsessed by a feeling that German-speakers are going to dominate the community,” Sir Patrick writes. “Any talk of German reunification is anathema to her.”

Ms Thatcher’s attitude on foreign matters reportedly led her foreign secretary Douglas Hurd to remark: “Cabinet now consists of three items: parliamentary affairs; home affairs; and xenophobia,” the diary says.

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