New British coalition holds first cabinet meeting

Last Updated: Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 17:25

London: Britain`s new Premier David Cameron chaired his first cabinet meeting on Thursday, bringing together former rivals from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties in a historic coalition.

Deputy Premier Nick Clegg and four other Lib Dem ministers gathered with their new Tory colleagues in Downing Street, in the first test of whether their promise of a "new politics" in Britain can work in practice.

The priority of the new government, Britain`s first coalition since World War II, is tackling the nation`s record deficit and securing recovery from a long and deep recession, with an emergency budget due within 50 days.

"We are announcing a new politics, a new politics where the national interest is more important than the party interest," Cameron said in an open-air press conference in the Downing Street garden with Clegg on Wednesday.

"It can be a historic and seismic shift in our political leadership," the 43-year-old said.

For the Tories, Cameron`s close ally George Osborne takes up the key finance post as Chancellor of Exchequer, former party leader William Hague is the new foreign secretary and Liam Fox is defence secretary.

On the Lib Dem side, as well as Clegg other key Lib Dem ministers include Vince Cable as business secretary and Chris Huhne as energy and climate change secretary, while more are expected to be named in junior posts on Thursday.

The two parties will have to learn to work together after years of being on opposing sides and after a fiercely fought and often bitter campaign for the May 06 elections, which resulted in Britain`s first hung Parliament since 1974.

Cameron`s Tories won the most seats but not the governing majority needed to oust Gordon Brown`s Labour government, and spent five days in talks with the third-placed Lib Dems before they agreed a power-sharing deal.

Cameron was asked to form a government by Queen Elizabeth II late Tuesday after Brown resigned.

A seven-page coalition accord released on Wednesday said cutting the deficit was "the most urgent issue" Britain faces, with about GBP 6 billion (EUR 7 billion, USD 9 billion) of savings to be made this year.

Bank of England governor Mervyn King welcomed the plan to cut the debt, which stands at GBP 163.4 billion. Britain only emerged from recession at the end of last year.

The coalition accord also confirmed Britain will not join the eurozone in this parliamentary term, which has been fixed at five years, and stressed the need for banking reform to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 17:25

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