Pressure grows for UK power-sharing deal

Britain’s main opposition parties came under growing pressure on Monday to agree to a power-sharing deal, four days after a general election left the country politically deadlocked.

The centre-right Conservatives, led by David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s centrist Liberal Democrats, holding a third day of talks, described weekend negotiations as “very positive”.

But they are facing growing calls from Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour, which is still running the country, either to announce a deal or admit they have failed — a move which would allow Labour to talk to the Lib Dems.

There are suggestions that Brown, whose party dropped to second place behind the Tories in Thursday’s general election, could stand aside to make any talks between Labour and the Lib Dems easier.

Labour Finance Minister Alistair Darling said he hoped the Conservatives and Lib Dems could strike an accord within hours in order to reassure the financial markets and the country as a whole.


“I don’t think it will do any good to let this process drag on,” he told BBC radio. “I hope by the end of today [Monday] they can decide whether they can do a deal or not.”

When asked whether Brown should indicate that he intended to stand down in order to boost Labour’s potential negotiating position with the Lib Dems, Darling was non-committal.

“I’m not going to decide in advance what may or may not be the case in any discussions we have with them,” he said.

‘Positive and productive’
Thursday’s general election delivered a hung Parliament — where no one party has overall control — for the first time since 1974.

The Conservatives won the most seats and pushed the ruling Labour party into second.

But under Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system, it was not enough to for them to govern alone and they are trying to win the extra support needed to rule by working with the Lib Dems, who came in third.

The main talks on power-sharing are being conducted by a team of negotiators and resumed at 9am GMT, while a series of other meetings involving the parties were scheduled throughout the day.

Tory negotiator William Hague, who is also the party’s foreign affairs spokesperson, hailed five hours of talks on Sunday as “very positive and productive”.

Cameron met Clegg on Sunday in their second set of face-to-face talks in 24 hours, a further sign the two sides could be inching towards a deal.

Brown also met Clegg, in a meeting described by sources as “amicable”.

One of the key stumbling blocks the Tories and Lib Dems face is reaching agreement on reforming the voting system. This is one of the Lib Dems’s key policies but is opposed by the Conservatives.

Conservative former prime minister John Major warned on BBC radio that “to suddenly draw up plans on the back of an envelope” on electoral reform during the talks would likely lead to the wrong decision.

“There is a crisis and we need to work in the national interest in order to try and resolve that,” Major said.

Clegg has hinted he may compromise on electoral reform but the goal is cherished by many Lib Dem activists.

Any alliance involving the Lib Dems that threatens its “independence of political action” has to be approved by the party’s lawmakers, the ruling executive and potentially its full membership in a complex system known as the “triple lock”.

If a deal cannot be done with the Lib Dems, Cameron could try to rule as leader of a minority Conservative government, relying on ad hoc support from smaller parties. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Covid-19 vaccines offer hope as world leaders plan for future

Hopes over Covid-19 vaccines have given a boost to virus-weary citizens across the globe, but the disease remains rampant and world leaders are urging people to be patient

Regulate vaping and e-cigarettes fairly

If South Africa is prepared to draw on international harm reduction best practice, it could generate good legislation to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes cleverly

SA justice delays extradition of paedophile to UK

Efforts to bring Lee Nigel Tucker to justice have spanned 16 years and his alleged victims have waited for 30 years

Wheeling and dealing for a Covid-19 vaccine

A Covid-19 jab could cost hundreds of rands. Or not. It’s anyone’s guess. Could another pandemic almost a century ago hold clues for handling the coronavirus today?

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

The cost of Covid: 25 years of progress, halted

Development has been set back by two decades, says the Gates Foundation Goalkeepers report
Advertising

Subscribers only

Dozens of birds and bats perish in extreme heat in...

In a single day, temperatures in northern KwaZulu-Natal climbed to a lethal 45°C, causing a mass die-off of birds and bats

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

More top stories

Eusebius McKaiser: Mpofu, Gordhan caught in the crosshairs

The lawyer failed to make his Indian racist argument and the politician refused to admit he had no direct evidence

Corruption forces health shake-up in Gauteng

Dr Thembi Mokgethi appointed as new health MEC as premier seeks to stop Covid-19 malfeasance

Public-private partnerships are key for Africa’s cocoa farmers

Value chain efficiency and partnerships can sustain the livelihoods of farmers of this historically underpriced crop

Battery acid, cassava sticks and clothes hangers: We must end...

COMMENT: The US’s global gag rule blocks funding to any foreign NGOS that perform abortions, except in very limited cases. The Biden-Harris administration must rescind it
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…