British press trumpets 'love-struck' PM power couple

13th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

"The Great No.10 Love-In," "The Happy Couple at Number 10," or simply "It's Love" -- Britain's press had fun putting a romantic spin on the country's unlikely new power couple Thursday.

Launching Britain's first coalition government since World War II, Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg put on a relaxed show of unity Wednesday in the garden at 10 Downing Street.

The Conservative premier and his Liberal Democrat partner -- bitter rivals during the month-long election campaign -- had only clinched their power-sharing deal on Tuesday night after five days of coalition haggling.

But the next morning they were clearly still in the throes of their new partnership, as they strolled together through the leafy garden to an open-air press conference round the back of Cameron's new home.

Cameron "was asked how he felt the morning after the night before, hooked up to someone he barely knew and had barely spoken to," remarked The Guardian's sketchwriter Simon Hoggart.

"As with so many whirlwind romances, the thrill was still electric."

Several commentators likened the power pair's first appearance to a civil wedding ceremony rather than the launch of a political coalition.

"It was the quickest marriage in political history, and yesterday the nation was asked to bless it," said The Sun, one of Cameron's biggest media backers during the month-long election campaign.

Front pages were filled with photos of the political union. The Daily Mail hailed "The Great No.10 Love-In," while The Express declared: "It's Love."

Others played on the two men's similar privileged background -- Cameron went to top public school Eton then Oxford University, while Clegg went to Westminster and Cambridge.

Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell depicted the pair in front of Number 10, Cameron saying "Until today we were rivals," while Clegg -- balancing a drink on a tray, responding: "Today we are man and butler."

The Conservatives came first in last Thursday's election, but were just short of an absolute majority. Cameron struck a deal with the third-placed Lib Dems making Clegg his deputy, and appointing four other Liberal cabinet ministers.

Despite the upbeat tone in many newspapers, some predicted the happy couple's swiftly-arranged union was a marriage of convenience that would be torn asunder by the challenges it faced.

"The Dave and Nick Show was impressive yesterday but it will be very hard to keep it on the road," said The Independent.

The incoming government must implement sharp cuts to public spending in a bid to reduce the country's record deficit, which is at the highest level since World War II.

Despite compromises on many issues, The Independent pointed to a raft of deep-seated differences hanging over the coalition, such as over the European Union and nuclear power.

Such differences were "a sign of their different instincts -- and, inevitably, of trouble ahead."

The Guardian also saw looming problems, warning that the "summer wedding was happy, but the trials of marriage have only just begun".

© 2010 AFP

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