David Cameron became the new U.K. prime minister on Tuesday night, after five days of intense and twisting political intrigue.
The transfer of power was swiftly set in motion when Gordon Brown resigned after failing to secure a power-sharing deal in the vacuum that followed last week’s inconclusive election.
A Downing Street spokesman confirmed to the press that the Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg had been appointed as deputy prime minister, and that four other cabinet posts would also be filled by members from his party.
Just after midnight, the Liberal Democrats announced that they had unanimously agreed to the power-sharing deal with the Conservatives, although they did not give details.
Standing outside 10 Downing Street on Tuesday night, Cameron announced that there would be a “proper and full coalition” between his Tory Party and the Liberal Democrats, “This is the right way for the strong, stable, the good, and decent government that we need so badly.”
It will be the first coalition government since World War II and brings to an end 13 years of New Labor rule.
Cameron said that he and Mr. Clegg want to “put aside party differences and work hard for the common good for the sake of the national interest.”
A deal with the Liberal Democrats has been under negotiation for the five days since the election failed to provide a clear winner.
Cameron stressed the challenges the country faces, his speech peppered with references to responsibility. “This is going to be hard and difficult work, and a coalition will throw up all sorts of challenges,” he said.
“I want to try and help build a more responsible society here in Britain.”
Stressing the challenges the country faced he said he hoped people would “not just ask ‘What are my entitlements?’ but ‘What are my responsibilities?’ and not ‘What am I owed?’ but more ‘What can I give?’
“I came into politics because I love this country and think its best days lie ahead,” said Cameron, 43, is the youngest prime minister for nearly 200 years.
Cameron was invited to form a government by the queen hot on the heels of Gordon Brown’s announcement that he was stepping down earlier in the evening. The formality of Britain’s unwritten constitution is that the queen invites the party leaders to form a government.
Winston Churchill was the first prime minister dealt with by the queen, who has invited 12 people to become prime minister.
Cameron paid tribute to the outgoing government, saying that it had made the country “more open at home and more compassionate abroad,” for which he said we should be thankful.
Gordon Brown’s resignation came as the Liberal Democrat and Tory parties were putting the final touches to a power-sharing deal.
Brown yesterday had offered his head in return for the deal with the Lib Dems that was needed to keep his party in power, setting into motion talks between the two parties.
When these talks today failed to produce a workable deal, it was game over for the Labor Party’s hopes of retaining power.
He said that as prime minister he had been privileged to learn very much about the best in human nature and the frailties of human nature, not least of all his own.
He said that he “loved the job” and it had been “a privilege to serve.”
“I wish the next prime minister well as he makes the important choices for the future,” he said.
Speaking later at party headquarters he said that he was also stepping down as Labor leader, with Harriet Harman taking his place before leadership elections.
President Obama was the first leader to talk to Cameron. In a statement he said, “I reiterated my deep and personal commitment to the special relationship between our two countries—a bond that has endured for generations and across party lines, and that is essential to the security and prosperity of our two countries, and the world.”
Obama also praised Gordon Brown’s “strong leadership during challenging times.”