David Cameron has become the first Tory British Prime Minister in thirteen years after a sudden announcement by Gordon Brown tonight that he was standing down.
In line with monarchic practice, Cameron arrived at Buckingham Palace tonight to accept an “invitation” from the English queen to form a new British government.
After five days of uncertainty, Brown abandoned his efforts to form a ‘progressive’ coalition after the Liberal Democrats were thought to be close to a deal to form a substantial coalition with the Tories, including five senior ministerial posts.
Brown’s efforts to form a “progressive alliance” between Labour, the Liberal Democrats, his own Scottish nationalists, Plaid Cymru in Wales and the SDLP in the north of Ireland was repeatedly derided in the mainstream British media. In the end, Brown’s gambit was a more ad-hoc and uncertain plan compared to the Tory offer, which offered the ‘Lib Dems’ immediate power and prestige.
In a heartfelt speech, Brown quitted the post with an emotional farewell, claiming that he loved the job “for its potential to make this country I love fairer, more tolerant, more green, more democratic, more prosperous and more just - truly a greater Britain.”
He also said he would “never forget” those British soldiers “whose families today live in grief” as a result of the British government’s military campaigns under his premiership.
An hour after Mr Brown conceded defeat and drove to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation as Prime Minister to the Queen, Mr Cameron arrived at the Palace.
Amid loud protests at Downing Street as Cameron arrived to take the reins of power tonight, considerable anger was directed at the Liberal Democrats and its leader, Nick Clegg, over what the Labour’s Scottish Parliament leader Iain Gray described as a “deal with the devil”.
Clegg is to become Deputy Prime Minister under the deal.
Among the other revelations tonight is that the new government in London is planning an “emergency budget” within two months to implement cuts, which are expected to be directed mainly at the north of ireland, the west of Scotland and the north of England.
The Liberal Democrats are to receive a total of twenty government posts as a reward for their support for the Tory economic and military agenda, including the controversial Trident missile program.
It is still not yet known who will be the new British Direct Ruler in Ireland, although Tory Owen Paterson is tipped for the job. Prior to Thursday’s election, David Cameron had angered Irish republicans by backing a Thatcherite colonial agenda that the north of Ireland is as ‘British as Finchley’.
The Tories also refused to countenance the proportional representation system of electoral reform, instead promising a referendum on the more limited ‘Alternative Vote’, a majoritarian system which does not produce a proportional parliament.
Tonight, the Liberal Democrats were debating the deal, with some divisions visible between the two wings of a party formed in 1988 by a merger of the right-wing Liberal Party and the left-wing Social Democratic Party. In the end, however, all the party’s new MPs backed the deal, despite considerable doubts over the Tories commitment to electoral reform.
The Scottish first minister Alex Salmond tonight warned Scotland would not be a “helpless bystander” in the face of spending cuts. Nevertheless, he paid tribute to Brown for his years of service and his efforts to form a “progressive alliance” between Labour, the Liberal Democrats, his own Scottish nationalists, Plaid Cymru in Wales and the SDLP in the north of Ireland.
He said the Liberal Democrats would “rue the day” they instead agreed to a deal with the Conservatives, and predicted the party would be decimated north of the border.
“It is a great pity not just for Scotland but for people across these islands that the idea to change politics fundamentally wasn’t grasped - it was a failure of political will.
“We have Scottish elections next year, we have a government in Scotland - we are no longer helpless bystanders in this as we were in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher’s government.
“We have secured the undertaking that there will be no changes to the budget which has been implemented in Scotland for this coming year and one of the partners in this new Conservative-Liberal alliance also gave us the undertaking that there would be no change to the funding formula.
“Obviously there is a new government in place in Westminster. Where they act in Scotland’s interests we will co-operate. If they act against Scotland’s interests, and that would include slashing our key public services in Scotland, then obviously they would expect us to resist that very strongly.”
There are already concerns that the infamous street protests and riots of the Thatcher era are set to return to Britain’s deprived inner cities.
‘FAIR WIND’ FROM ADAMS
DUP leader Peter Robinson said that he wished Mr Cameron well.
“As a party we look forward to David Cameron proving himself to be the unionist prime minister that he has promised,” he said.
“At Westminster the DUP will support the government when it acts in the best interests of Northern Ireland and of the UK even where that involves difficult decisions.
“However, it is important that the long term interests of the United Kingdom are not sacrificed in the interests of short term political expediency and the DUP will oppose any measures which endanger the sovereignty or safety of the people of the UK.”
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams paid tribute to the outgoing Labour government.
“I just want to acknowledge the significant roles Tony Blair and Gordon Brown played in their own right to developing the peace process here,” he said.
He warned the Tories were “historically” bad news for Ireland. “I got a flashback to Thatcher and right through to John Major”, he said, “but we’ll give this man a fair wind”.
A statement issued by his press office added that the focus had to be on “getting the best block grant possible” and opposition to any cuts.