GORDON BROWN offered the Liberals a coalition yesterday evening, and his resignation as PM by the time of the Labour Party conference.
Brown, speaking outside 10 Downing Street, said: ‘We have a parliamentary system and not a presidential system in this country.
‘And with no party able to command a parliamentary majority arising from the general election, my constitutional duty as Prime Minister is to ensure that government continues, while parties explore the options of a new administration.’
He continued: ‘The business of government has continued, including concerted action in Europe today to avert the financial crisis in the euro area.
‘This morning I have had conversations with the president of the European Commission, the managing director of the IMF, and the head of the European Central Bank, and said I would do all I could to ensure that strong, principled and stable government is formed, able to tackle Britain’s economic and political challenges effectively.
‘Mr Clegg has just informed me, while he intends to continue his dialogue with the Conservatives, he also now wishes to take forwards formal discussions with the Labour Party. I believe it is in the national interest to respond positively.’
Brown said that a ‘process’ was being established for negotiations similar to those between the Tories and Liberal Democrats, under the auspices of the Cabinet Secretary.
The ‘first priority’ of any Lib-Lab coalition, said Brown, should be an ‘agreed deficit reduction plan’ to ensure ‘stability’ in the money markets and ‘protect Britain’s standing’ in the capitalist world.
He said that it could be ‘in the interests of the whole country to form a progressive government’.
He said: ‘In my view only such a progressive government could meet the demand for electoral and political change which the electorate made last Thursday.’
He then said that his ‘own position’ was: if it becomes clear that ‘the ‘national interest, which is stable and principled government’ can be best served by forming a coalition between the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, then ‘I believe I should discharge that duty to form a government’, which could command a majority in the House of Commons with the support of the smaller, nationalist parties.
But he added: ‘I have no desire to stay in my position longer than needed’.
He said that ‘as leader of my party’ he must accept that the election result was in part a judgement ‘of me’.
He added: ‘I therefore intend to ask the Labour Party to set in train processes needed for its own leadership election.
‘I 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’ in the autumn.
‘I will take no part in that contest. I will back no individual candidate,’ Brown said.’
While he remains prime minister, Brown said he would do ‘all in my power to support British troops who continue to serve and sacrifice’ in Afghanistan.
‘The people of the country want a new politics,’ he concluded. ‘I now intend to facilitate the discussions that the Liberal Democratic Party has asked for.’
He refused to take any questions.