UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is quitting as leader of the Labour party after losing the election to the Conservatives while simultaneously making a pitch to form a government with the third-placed Liberal Democrats.
Meanwhile, David Cameron’s Tories is offering Nick Clegg's Lib Dems its biggest demand – a referendum on electoral reform.
This is the complicated outcome to last week’s election, which saw neither major party achieve a majority while the Lib Dems lost five seats to 57 (9% of the total seats) despite boosting their voting share to 23%.
In his surprise announcement, made from a prepared statement outside 10 Downing St, Mr Brown said he would remain in office to oversee negotiations for a new government, then stand down when a new Labour leader was elected.
He said he expected that to have happened before the Labour party’s annual conference in September.
Mr Brown said that last week’s general election had produced a hung Parliament “because no single party and no single leader” had secured a majority in the House of Commons, and that “as leader of my party I have to accept that as a judgment on me.”
He added, “I have therefore asked the Labour party to set in train the processes needed for its own leadership election.”
Effectively, Mr Brown has sacrificed himself to overcome the Lib Dems’ demand that they wouldn’t make a deal with Labour while he was leader.
Labour has no obvious successor. Contenders will include Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Education and Families Minister Ed Balls, and the party’s deputy leader. Harriet Harma.
Even so, the chances of a coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems look remote, given they do not have enough seats together for a majority. That leaves the Tories still holding the upper hand to lead the next government.
However, talks between the Tories and the Lib Dems have stumbled over such issues as taxation, education and electoral reform.
Tue, 11 May 2010