Talks between Britain's Labour and Lib Dems fail: reports

11th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Power-sharing talks between Britain's Labour Party and Liberal Democrats have failed, the BBC and Sky News reported Tuesday, as Lib Dem talks with opposition Tories continued after a poll deadlock.

The BBC cited a Downing Street official as acknowledging that the talks, launched on Monday amid frantic efforts to form a government following a deadlocked general election last Thursday, "will reach no conclusion".

A senior Liberal Democrat peer also seemed to confirm the reports, saying: "I believe there won't be an offer from the Labour party".

Neither Brown's Downing Street office nor the Labour Party would comment on the report, which came a day after the British premier announced he would stand down in a bid to facilitate the Labour-Lib Dem talks.

The BBC cited a senior Lib Dem official as saying the power-sharing offer from David Cameron's Conservatives -- who won last week's ballots but without an absolute majority -- was "the only deal in town."

But the Lib Dems also declined to comment.

In fast-moving developments, Conservative leader Cameron arrived at the party's central London headquarters, and left again a short time later, without making any comment.

In Thursday's general election, the Conservatives won 306 seats in the 650-member House of Commons -- 20 short of a clear majority of 326 -- followed by Labour on 258 and the Lib Dems on 57.

On Monday Brown offered to quit -- seen as a condition for talks with the Lib Dems -- prompting the Tories to offer a major compromise to the third party, which has emerged as the kingmaker amid the post-poll stalemate.

Lib Dem peer Roger Roberts, a former head of the party in Wales, told the BBC there could be a decision taken before 9:00pm (2000 GMT) Tuesday.

"I believe there won't be an offer from the Labour party," he said. "The feeling is we have to have a government -- if this (a possible deal with the Tories) is the only way we can get it, we'll go along with it."

Amid the Sky and BBC reports, Health Secretary Andy Burnham indicated that he agreed with former home secretary David Blunkett, who has said that Labour should admit defeat and not try to form a coalition with the Lib Dems.

"I think we have got to respect the result of the general election and you cannot get away from the fact that Labour didn't win," he told the BBC.

"I think David has spoken with real authority on this matter. I would say that clearly the lead option would remain the largest party speaking to the Liberal Democrats."

Former lord chancellor Lord Falconer said Brown should "call it quits now" on efforts to form a coalition government with the Lib Dems.

© 2010 AFP

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