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Paul Johnston

Ambassador to Ireland

Part of UK in Sweden

19th April 2013

A memory of Lady Thatcher

As I prepared for an interview on ExpressenTV on the night of Lady Thatcher’s funeral, I read through the entries in the Embassy’s condolence book. Many Ambassadors, representing countries from across the world had come to the Embassy to pay their tributes, as had members of the British community and Swedish citizens.

What struck me was the strong personal impression Margaret Thatcher’s life and work had made on the lives of many people across the globe.

I was still at primary school when she became Prime Minister, and already working in the government service when she resigned. She made the political weather in Britain for well over a decade.

I never had the chance to meet her, but recall one, perhaps characteristic, anecdote, from a trip she made to the Paris Embassy, when I was working there in 1998.

She was staying in Paris the night of an England-Argentina match in the World Cup. England lost, controversially, on penalties, after David Beckham was sent off.

A colleague was dispatched to report the result to the Iron Lady.

“I’m afraid, Lady Thatcher, that England lost against Argentina tonight”, he timidly said.

“Never mind, dear boy, we won back the Falklands”, was the Lady’s memorable response!

1 comment on “A memory of Lady Thatcher

  1. 25 years ago since the first emissions trading – Glastonbury U.K.

    On 6 December 1987, 25 years ago, Maureen’s Pet shop of Glastonbury in (Somerset) bought carbon offset corresponding her pet shop’s total emissions, as calculated by the Carbon Markets Association. The compensation was done with tree planting and was the world’s first. Since then, only the CDM market has offset emissions of over a billion metric tonnes of CO2.

    B. MT in office then, a coincident? Not likely

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About Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston joined the UK Civil Service in 1990, working for the Ministry of Defence initially. He has served in Paris and New York and has also had a wide…

Paul Johnston joined the UK Civil Service in 1990, working for the Ministry of Defence initially.

He has served in Paris and New York and has also had a wide range of political and security roles in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Paul joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1993 as Desk Officer for Bosnia. As part of this role he was also Private Secretary to EU negotiator Lord Owen and his representative on Bosnia Contact Group.

His first foreign posting was to Paris in 1995-99 as Second Secretary Political. He was Private Secretary to the Ambassador and latterly part of the UK delegation to the Kosovo Rambouillet negotiations. Then he returned to London as Head of the Kosovo Policy Team, leading work on post-conflict policy in the EU, NATO, UN and G8.

Before his second overseas posting to New York in 2005, Paul held a variety of other EU policy and security appointments in London, such as Head of European Defence Section between 2000-01 and Head of Security Policy Department between 2002-04.

As Head of the Political Section in UKMIS New York, he advised on major policy issues for the UK on the Security Council and the UN World Summit, including the UK EU Presidency in 2005.

Paul returned to London in 2008 as Director, International Security for the FCO. He was responsible for policy on UN, NATO, European Security, arms control and disarmament, human rights and good governance.

Paul was British Ambassador to Sweden from August 2011 to August 2015 and then was Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO.

He was UK Ambassador to the EU for Political and Security affairs from 2017 to January 2020 and became Ambassador to Ireland in September 2020.