By the time Margaret Thatcher became Britain's Prime Minister in May 1979, the Rhodesian problem had been a standard fixture of British political life for a decade and a half. Ian Smith, the Prime Minister of that self-governing territory, had issued its unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) from Britain in 1965, after both Labour and Conservative governments had made it clear that formal independence could not be granted to Rhodesia without a firm commitment by a Rhodesian government to move the country toward majority rule. Intent on maintaining unfettered white minority control, Smith rejected British blandishments and issued his declaration of independence, its language made purposefully reminiscent of the American document of 1776.