Britain's Mandelson talks up deal with Lib Dems
Peter Mandelson, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's de facto deputy, gave the clearest sign yet Friday that his Labour party was willing to strike a deal with the Liberal Democrats to stay in power.
Mandelson was speaking after exit polls suggested that the country was heading for a hung parliament for the first time since 1974 after Thursday's general election.
The Conservatives had 305 seats, 21 short of an overall majority of 326, Labour had 255 and the Liberal Democrats 61, according to the exit poll for broadcasters.
When asked about whether Labour could form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats to stay in power, Mandelson said on Sky News: "You don't have to sound quite so horrified. Obviously we would be prepared to consider that."
But asked if Brown would have to step down as part of the deal, he added only: "They would have to express that view in the first place and that hasn't happened."
If the exit polls' predictions are borne out, Labour and the Liberal Democrats would still fall short of the 326 seats needed for a clear majority.
Convention dictates that, as sitting prime minister, Brown would get the first shot at forming a government in the case of a hung parliament, even if his party did not win the most seats.
© 2010 AFP