URGENT talks began yesterday as Tory leader David Cameron demanded a ‘strong and stable government’ is formed ‘quickly’ to avoid ‘economic catastrophe’.
This was after Gordon Brown had announced that he was still acting as prime minister and that his chancellor, Alastair Darling, was having crisis telephone talks with G7 finance ministers last night.
parliament yesterday, with no party having an overall majority.
Cameron said he wanted to govern and take ‘decisive’ action to reassure international markets by implementing savage spending cuts that would reduce UK government debt levels.
He made a ‘big’ appeal to the Liberal Democrats to join him in a coalition, but said he was willing to run a ‘minority’ government with the support of other parties on key issues like cutting spending.
The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said earlier: ‘It is now for the Conservative Party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest.’
The Liberal Democrats agree with Cameron that ‘savage cuts’ are ‘necessary’, while Brown reiterated his pledge to ‘halve the deficit’.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a statement outside 10 Downing Street yesterday lunchtime: ‘We find ourselves in a position unknown to this generation of political leaders, with no single party able to have a Commons majority and therefore have a majority government.
‘I therefore felt that I should give you, and through you the country, my assessment of where we are.
‘I do so as prime minister with a constitutional duty to seek to resolve the situation for the good of the country, not as the leader of the Labour Party, less than a day after the election.
‘What we have seen are no ordinary election results.
He then offered the Lib Dems a coalition deal saying: ‘Clearly should the discussions between Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg come to nothing, then I would of course be prepared to discuss with Mr Clegg the areas where there may be some measure of agreement between our two parties . . .
‘And to improve parliament’s standing and reputation a fairer voting system is essential and I believe you the British people should be able to decide in a referendum what the system should be.’
Tory leader Cameron then made a statement at 2.30pm in which he called for a ‘strong government’ to be formed fast.
Cameron said he was making a ‘big, open and comprehensive offer’ to the Liberal Democrats to ‘work together in tackling our country’s big and urgent problems: the debt crisis, our deep social problems and our broken political system’.
He added: ‘The biggest threat to our national interest is the deficit . . . The national interest is clear: the world is looking to Britain for decisive action.
‘The new government must grip this deficit and prevent the economic catastrophe that will result from putting off the difficult and the urgent action that needs to be taken.’
He added: ‘There is one further point I want to make: I believe it is not just important for this country to have strong and stable government, it’s important that we get that strong and stable government quickly.’
Cameron concluded: ‘The best thing for Britain now is a new government that works together in the national interest and I hope with all my heart that is something we can achieve.’