British PM lets opposition parties mull power deal first

7th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday he would let the opposition Conservatives and Liberal Democrats hold power-sharing talks first, but offered to talk to the Lib Dems if they failed.

Brown said he respected the decision of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg to meet Conservative leader David Cameron after Thursday's indecisive election and they should "be entitled to take as much time as they feel necessary".

"Clearly should the discussions between Mr. Cameron and Mr. Clegg come to nothing then I would of course be prepared to discuss with Mr. Clegg the areas where there may be some measure of agreement between our two parties," he said.

Brown pinpointed two areas in which discussions between his Labour Party and the Lib Dems "would be likely to focus" -- economic stability and reform of Britain's first-past-the-post voting system.

On voting reform, a key demand of the Lib Dems, he said: "My view is clear -- there needs to be immediate legislation on this.

"A fairer voting system is central and I believe that you the British people should be able to decide in a referendum what the system should be."

Brown said all party leaders had to bear in mind "the imperative for strong and stable government and for that to be formed with the authority to tackle the challenges ahead and one which can command support in parliament".

"It is with this in mind that all of us should be facing the times ahead," he added.

The Conservatives, seeking to return to power after a 13-year absence, will be the largest party in the new parliament but they failed to secure the absolute majority which would have allowed them to govern alone.

Labour will be the second-biggest party in the hung parliament, with the Liberal Democrats a distant third.

© 2010 AFP

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