David Cameron, 43, who has become Britain’s youngest prime minister since 1812, began his first full day of office today after days of wrangling to decide who will rule the United Kingdom.
Last night, after the resignation as both Labour leader and Prime Minister of Gordon Brown, Cameron had an audience with the Queen, who formally asked him to form a government. The Liberal Democrats – third-placed in last Thursday’s general election – have negotiated virtually nonstop with the Conservatives and Labour since electors returned a hung parliament.
The Conservatives (or Tories) had the most seats, but not enough for an overall majority. Labour – in power for the previous 13 years – came second. With Liberal Democrat help, they still couldn’t have formed an overall majority, but might have had a working government with help from smaller parties.
Talks reached a critical stage with the Tories yesterday, and, after negotiations with Labour broke down earlier in the day, a coalition between Lib Dems and Tories began to look like a certainty.
Britain’s youngest prime minister has so far been Lord Liverpool, appointed in 1812 at the age of 42. Tony Blair was 43 when he came to power in 1997, but six months older than Cameron is now.
No one under 30 will have seen a change of government from Labour to Tory in the United Kingdom, and no one under 13 will have witnessed a change of government at all.
In what is the first power-sharing deal ever between Tories and Liberal Democrats, Cameron has already begun appointing his cabinet. George Osborne will be Chancellor; William Hague will be Foreign Secretary; Liam Fox will be Defence Secretary; and Andrew Lansley will be Health Secretary.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who has held the role of king maker since last Thursday’s hung vote, will be Deputy Prime Minister, and there will be four other Lib Dems in the cabinet in what is the first coalition government formed in the UK for 70 years.
by Liberal Democrats
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister of UK
Both parties have given way on policy issues in order to reach agreement.
Clegg said: “I hope this is the start of the new politics I have always believed in – diverse, plural, where politicians of different persuasions come together, overcome their differences in order to deliver good government for the sake of the whole country.”
“Barack Obama was the first foreign leader to congratulate Mr Cameron,” says the BBC. This happened in a brief telephone call during which the US President invited the new Prime Minister to visit Washington in the summer.
And the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also offered her congratulations, and has invited Cameron to visit Berlin.
Gordon Brown – who took over as Prime Minister and party leader from Tony Blair in 2007 – had already announced his intention to resign as party leader and set in motion the machinery for electing a new one. However, after yesterday’s dramatic events, he resigned first as leader, with immediate effect, and then as Prime Minister. Party leadership has been assumed by deputy leader Harriet Harman until a new leader emerges.