British PM lost hope of taking power during post-poll talks

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British Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed he lost all hope of ousting Gordon Brown in May's general election just 24 hours before taking power, in a documentary broadcast Thursday.

As negotiations dragged on following inconclusive polls, Cameron became convinced he faced another spell in opposition and was shocked when Brown finally stepped down as premier.

Cameron said he had to interrupt wife Samantha as she helped their daughter with school work and tell her to "get your frock on" because they were heading to Buckingham Palace so he could accept an invitation to form a government.

"I remember saying 'It's not going to happen, I'm going to be leader of the opposition'," Cameron said in a BBC documentary, "Five Days that Changed Britain", on the fraught negotiations that followed the May 6 general election.

But the Conservative party did successfully form a government with Britain's third-largest party, the Liberal Democrats, creating the country's first coalition since World War II and ousting Brown's Labour from power.

The five-day negotiations came after the poll produced Britain's first hung parliament, where no one party wins enough seats in the House of Commons to govern alone, in more than 30 years.

The Conservatives were forced to turn to the Lib Dems after winning most seats but falling short of an outright majority.

In the early stages of the negotiations, Cameron and the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, were in formal talks and appeared to be edging towards forming a government.

But on day four, Monday, May 10, Brown made the bombshell announcement that the Lib Dems had also entered talks with Labour on forming a government.

This was when Cameron became convinced his political fight was going to end in defeat.

"I thought 'That's it, I'm going to be in opposition for another couple more years'," he said.

"On Sunday I was thinking I probably will be prime minister... I was thinking by the end of Monday I definitely won't be prime minister."

So Cameron was caught off guard when the talks between Labour and the Lib Dems failed and Brown announced on Tuesday, May 11, that he was going to resign.

"I remember having to ring Samantha and saying 'What are you doing?'," said the prime minister.

"And she was doing Nancy's homework and I said 'We could be going to the palace, you'd better get your frock on'."

Within an hour, they were meeting the queen but Cameron was forced to admit to the monarch he did not yet know what sort of government would be formed.

"I said that I hoped to form a coalition government but I might have to come back in the morning and tell her it was something rather different."

© 2010 AFP

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