Four days after a general election produced a hung parliament, efforts by British parties to agree on a power-sharing deal gathered momentum on Monday after PM Gordon Brown offered to step down while urging politicians to form a “progressive coalition government” with his Labour party.
“I believe it could be in the interests of the country to form a progressive coalition government,” said Brown as he announced the launch of formal party discussions to negotiate a deal with the Liberal Democratic party on the request of its leader Nick Clegg.
Alongside, Brown offered to step down by the time Labour meets for its annual meet in autumn. “I intend to ask the Labour Party to set in train the processes needed for its own leadership election and would hope that it would be completed in time for the new leader to be in post by the time of the Labour Party conference,” he said.
The British premier’s surprise announcement came as fissures appeared between the centrist Lib Dems and Conservatives over key issues of education, taxation and voting reforms.
David Law, a spokesman for the party whose 57 lawmakers are key to forming Britain’s next government, said the parliamentary party had asked for “clarification on details” on these issues. The demand was made in a marathon two-hour meeting between Clegg and his recently-elected MPs.
Lib Dem negotiators held separate discussions with the Conservatives as well as ruling Labour on Monday. In addition, Clegg held face-to-face meetings with Conservative leader David Cameron and Brown.