LONDON—Gordon Brown has announced he will step down as prime minister in a dramatic twist to the political drama that is still unfolding after last week’s inconclusive U.K. election results.
The prime minister said that his Labour Party’s performance in the general election was a reflection on his leadership. He also announced that his party was opening talks with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats on a possible power-sharing deal.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Brown said: “If it becomes clear that the national interest, which is stable and principled government, can be best served by forming a coalition between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, then I believe I should discharge that duty, support that government which would, in my view, command a majority in the House of Commons in the Queen’s speech and any other confidence votes.”
“But I have no desire to stay in my position longer than is needed to ensure the path to economic growth is assured and the process of political reform we have agreed moves forward quickly,” he added.
Brown said that he would remain in power for a few months to oversee transition to the new government, but he expects a leadership election in which he would play no role.
The prime minister’s promise to step down is seen as the Labour Party’s last attempt to woo the Liberal Democrats into a power-sharing deal that would keep them in power. The Liberal Democrats' leader Nick Clegg had already said during the election campaign that he could not entertain a power-sharing deal in which Gordon Brown stayed on as prime minister.
The Conservatives won the most votes and seats in the general election, but not enough to hold a majority without some kind of a power-sharing deal with the Liberal Democrats. Talks have been underway between the two parties for several days. Brown’s announcement came just as negotiations between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party appeared to be closing in on a power-sharing deal.
The British pound fell 1 percent against the U.S. dollar within minutes of Brown's announcement, with investors worrying the move will prolong the country's current political limbo. Investors are keen to see a stable U.K. government that can effectively tackle the country's large deficit.