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David Cameron becomes new British PM as Brown quits

Last updated on: May 12, 2010 11:50 IST

Conservative Conservative leader David Cameron took over as Britain's new Prime Minister, ousting the Labour party from power after a 13-year rule, after striking an agreement with the Liberal Democrats who joined the country's first coalition government in 70 years.

Cameron assumed the top post last night after Queen Elizabeth II invited him to form the new government following the resignation of incumbent Gordon Brown.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has been named as the Deputy Prime Minister as Cameron said he planned to form a "full" coalition government of his Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats.

Installed at the No 10 Downing Street, Cameron thus becomes the youngest prime minister in almost 200 years, since Lord Liverpool who assumed office at 42.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said the Queen had requested 43-year-old Cameron to form a new government.
"The Right Honourable David Cameron accepted Her Majesty's offer and kissed hands upon his appointment as prime minister," it said.

The agreement over power-sharing came after five days of hard bargaining between the single-largest party and the kingmaker Clegg's party, following which four other Liberal Democrats also received Cabinet posts.

The arrangement gives Britain its first coalition government since the World War II when Winston Churchill led a war time coalition. The Conservatives emerged as the largest single party in the May 6 election that triggered the ending of the Labour party's record 13 years in office.

Labour leader Gordon Brown tendered his resignation as Prime Minister to Queen Elizabeth during a 15-minute audience at the Buckingham Palace last evening.

As per protocol, after resigning, Brown suggested to the Queen that Cameron was in the position of commanding the confidence of the House of Commons, and as such, he should be invited to form the next government. Cameron paid tribute to outgoing PM Brown for his long years of public service and said he would tackle Britain's "pressing problems".

In his first speech after being named the prime minister, he said, one of his major tasks would be to rebuild trust in the political system.

"Yes, that's about cleaning up expense, yes, that's about reforming parliament and yes, it's about making sure people are in control and that the politicians are always their servants and never their masters," he said.

While details of the government's programme are yet to be formally announced, reports said the two parties in the coalition agreed upon a referendum on an Alternative Vote system and plans for five-year fixed-term parliaments. Cameron said he and Liberal Democrats leader Clegg would "put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and the national interest". He stressed there would be "difficult decisions" but said he wanted to take people through them to reach "better times ahead".

Earlier 59-year-old Brown announced his resignation soon after his party's talks with Lib Dems to forge an alliance failed. He also quit as Chief of the Labour party with immediate effect and Harriet Harman became the acting leader of the Labour party.
The May 6 election threw up the first hung verdict in 34 years and a coalition emerged only after five days of hectic negotiation between the Tories and the Lib Dems. The Liberal Democrats held simultaneous parleys with the Labour and Brown also announced that he would step down to brighten the prospects of his party's coalition with the centrist party.
However, the move paid little dividends.

Brown's resignation broke a post-election political stalemate for five days after the Conservatives emerged as the largest party with 306 seats in the 650-member House of Commons following last Thursday's poll which threw up a hung parliament.
Labour got 258 seats and the Lib Dems 57.

Brown, who had succeeded Tony Blair as prime minister in June 2007, said in an emotional farewell speech outside 10 Downing Street that he had "loved the job" and it had been "a privilege to serve".

"I wish the next prime minister well as he makes the important choices for the future," he said. India was the first country Cameron visited after taking over as the Conservative leader in 2006. He has promised to forge a "new special relationship" with India and support India's bid for a seat in the United Nations Security council.

His party's manifesto says that the party will "work to establish a new special relationship with India, the world's largest democracy". It also commits the party to "work towards greater stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan" and support India's bid for a seat in the UN Security Council.

New PM Cameron has batted for a special relationship with India. "India is the world's largest democracy, a rapidly growing economy, a huge potential trading partner, a diverse society with a strong culture of pluralism, and a key regional player - a force for stability in a troubled part of the world," he wrote in an article.

Image: Britain's incoming Prime Minister, David Cameron, with his wife Samantha, waves in front of 10 Downing Street, in London.

Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Prasun Sonwalkar and H S Rao in London
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