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Gordon Brown To Step Down As Labour Leader

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 
PTI May 10, 2010 22:50 IST
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 today 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. PTI