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Consultations on new UK government formation resume

Sunday, May 09, 2010 08:12:09 PM, DPA

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London: Britain’s Conservative and Liberal parties on Sunday resumed urgent talks aimed at forming a new government after the inconclusive general election.

Top-level teams of both parties stressed that the discussions so far between David Cameron’s Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, had been “constructive.” Late Saturday, the two leaders met face-to-face for the first time since Thursday’s election, which gave neither the Conservatives nor the Labour Party of Prime Minister Gordon Brown an absolute majority.

According to sources, the two sides are aiming to issue, at the least, “some form of statement” on their intended cooperation before markets open on Monday, in order not to add to the jitters already caused by the Greek debt crisis.

“I am keen to play a constructive role at this time of great economic uncertainty to give this country the stable government it deserves,” said Mr. Clegg on Sunday.

Mr. Clegg, whose Liberal Democrats have emerged as the kingmakers in the election, has chosen to speak to the Conservatives first, as the party who emerged from Thursday’s election with the most seats and votes.

The talks are fraught with danger for both sides, given the traditional animosity between the Tories and the left-leaning Liberal Democrats, and their contrasting electorates.

While the talks continue, the Labour Party, which came second in its worst result since 1983, is forced to look on. Mr. Brown, citing Constitutional tradition, says he will stay on as Prime Minister until the situation is resolved.

Should the Conservative-Liberal talks fail, Labour stands ready to talk to Mr. Clegg about a new “progressive alliance.” Labour has made Mr. Clegg a more tempting offer than the Conservatives on a change of the majority electoral system to some form of proportional representation — the Liberals’ key demand.

But the Liberal leader appears to be reluctant to be associated with a government that has been in power for 13 years and could continue to be led by Mr. Brown.

An opinion poll published in the Sunday Times showed that 62 per cent of voters believed Mr. Brown should accept defeat and make way for a new leader as the party no longer had a Parliamentary majority.




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