Gordon Brown to step down as Labour leader

Last Updated: Monday, May 10, 2010 - 23:20

London: In a dramatic development, Prime
Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday he will step aside as leader
of the Labour party and offered to help forge an alliance with
the Liberal Democrats to form a progressive government after
the May 6 hung verdict.

The Liberal Democrats party has been having intense
negotiations with the Conservative party for the last 4 days,
but it has now been revealed that it has also been exploring
possibilities with the Labour party, with whom the party is
ideologically closer than with the Conservatives.

With Brown no longer leader of the Labour party, the
process has been set in motion to elect a new leader of the
party who may lead a potential Labour-Liberal Democrats
government.

Among the contenders to take over as the next leader
of the Labour party are David Miliband, Harriet Harman, and Ed
Balls.

Brown’s dramatic announcement that he is stepping
down as leader indicates that the talks between the
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were not progressing as
well as was being stated.

Brown was seen as a barrier to the Liberal Democrats
gravitating towards the Labour party.

Speaking outside 10, Downing Street, Brown said the
process of formal negotiations with the Liberal Democrats will
now begin.

His Cabinet was scheduled to meet later on Monday to
formulate a policy on the negotiations with the Liberal
Democrats.

Given the party position after the May 6 election,
the Labour (258) and Liberal Democrats (57) together do not
make a majority (326).

A coalition between the two will need to enlist the
support of MPs from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and
smaller parties such as the Green Party.

Brown said he has "no desire to stay in my position
longer than is needed to ensure that the path to economic
growth is secured" and the route is paved for political
reform.

He said he will ask his party to launch a leadership
contest and will play no part in it - expecting a new leader
to be in place around the time of the Labour conference in
September.

Brown said any alliance will need to forthwith
address serious issues facing the country’s economy.

Earlier today, the deadlocked election in the UK
appeared closer to resolution as Conservatives and
Liberal Democrats reported "further progress" in talks to ink
a deal to form a new government, amid fears that the political
uncertainty could stoke market jitters.

Opposition Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats
appeared on the brink of signing a deal that would hand Tory
leader David Cameron the key to power and finally oust Gordon
Brown from 10 Downing Street.

William Hague, the shadow Conservative foreign
minister, who is leading the negotiations for his party,
emerged after 90 minutes to say there had been "further
progress" and headed off to report back to Cameron.

Interlocutors representing the two parties have been
locked in protracted negotiations since last Friday, but
failed to reach an understanding until 1700 (GMT) today.

Even while talks between the two parties continued,
it was revealed that Clegg has also been holding talks with
the Labour party on government formation.

Brown has stated that if talks between the
Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats fail, the Labour party
would seek an alliance with the Liberal Democrats.

The Labour party has clearly not given up the idea of
forming the government after the May 6 election threw up a
hung verdict.

The inability to reach an understanding between the
Conservative and the Liberal democrats nearly four days after
the poll results were out indicates the seemingly
irreconcilable differences between the two parties on key
issues such as electoral reform, taxation and Europe.

Apart from public anxiety over the delay in
government formation, there is much concern over the impact
the hung verdict and subsequent political uncertainty would
have on the financial markets.

There are fears that the pound and shares would
suffer if a deal was not done by the time markets opened on
Monday, but early indications are that the FTSE 100 index of
London`s leading shares leapt more than 4 percent, suggesting
that traders saw the EU deal over a fund to stop the Greek
debt crisis spreading as much more significant than the
uncertainty in Britain.

Clegg asked people to bear with us a bit longer
and said all parties were "working flat out" on a solution.

Chancellor Alistair Darling, who continues in office
until a new government takes over, told the BBC: "I don`t
think it would do any good to let this process drag on.

According to new guidelines, the formation of the new
government should take place by 25 May, the day of the Queen’s
Speech to the new House of Commons.

Taking responsibility for the party`s defeat in the
recent UK General Election, Brown today announced that he is
stepping down as Labour Party leader.

Brown, Prime Minister since 2007, said he wanted a
successor to be in place by the time of the party`s conference
in September.

Brown announced his intention to quit in a statement
in 10 Downing Street in which he also said his party was to
start formal talks with the Liberal Democrats.

The Conservatives won most seats and most votes in
the election and have been in talks with the Liberal Democrats
to cobble up a coalition government.

Conservatives won 306 of the 649 seats, Labour 258
and Liberal Democrats 57 in the May 6 poll.

Brown said no party had won an overall majority in
the UK general election and, as Labour leader, he had to
accept his part in that.

He said "I have no desire to stay in my position
longer than is needed to form a stable government, and I will
ask the Labour Party to set in form the process of a
leadership contest."

He said it could be in the interests of the country to
form a "progressive" government - possibly in coalition with
the Liberal Democrats - the UK`s third largest party.

It emerged that the Liberal Democrats negotiating
team, who have held days of talks with the Conservatives, had
also met senior Labour figures in private.

PTI



First Published: Monday, May 10, 2010 - 23:20

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