Tories, Lib Dems in final stages of reaching agreement
After a day of frenetic developments, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was on Tuesday night set to resign “any time” to clear the way for a Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, headed by Conservative leader David Cameron, to take office as early as Wednesday.
At the time of going to the press, Mr. Brown was reported to be “preparing” to go to Buckingham Palace to submit his resignation, while the Conservatives and the Lib Dems were said to be in the final stages of reaching a power-sharing agreement.
Earlier, the talks between Labour and the Lib Dems collapsed barely hours after they started on Tuesday morning amid reports of a split in the Cabinet over how a “coalition of losers” would play with voters. There was said to be widespread unease in the Cabinet and the wider Labour party that this would be seen as a desperate attempt to cling on to power despite its heavy defeat in last week's elections.
At least one senior Cabinet Minister, the Health Secretary Andy Burnham, openly questioned the idea while a number of senior MPs, including former Ministers, appeared before television cameras to suggest that the party should “honourably” accept its electoral defeat and allow the Conservatives to form a government.
Besides, the Lib Dems were sceptical whether, given the differences in the Labour party, a Lib-Lab arrangement would be stable and whether Labour would be able to deliver on its promises.
The Tories, on the other hand, stepped up their charm offensive with an offer of more concessions on the Lib Dems' demand for voting reforms, including a referendum on proportional representation to replace the current first-past-the-post system.
According to the BBC, the two parties were in the stage of “dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.”
A senior Lib Dem leader claimed the Tories' offer was the “only deal in town.” Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said the talks had reached a “critical and final phase” and his party would do its “bit to create a stable, good government.”
Mr. Cameron said his party had made a “very reasonable” offer and it was now “decision time” for the Lib Dems.