Cameron gets closer to 10 Downing Street (Second Lead)

May 10th, 2010 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 10 (IANS) Tory leader David Cameron was tantalisingly close to getting the keys to 10 Downing Street Monday after his party inched closer to a deal with the Liberal Democrats to form the next government in Britain.
Nick Clegg, the charismatic leader of the Liberal Democrats, stressed Monday morning that both parties were working “flat out and round-the-clock” to get a new government in place.

“I don’t think a prolonged period of uncertainty is a good thing. That’s why we want to arrive at a decision as soon as possible.

“But I hope people equally understand that it would be better to get the decision right rather than rushing into something which won’t stand the test of time. I hope people will bear with us a little bit longer,” Daily Mail quoted Clegg as saying.

Cameron, the man who may become the next prime minister of the country, simply said: “I am always positive.”

He and Clegg spoke for 30 minutes Monday morning in a “positive and constructive” exchange that came after their face-to-face meeting Sunday night.

Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats held another round of talks Monday after key negotiators from both sides spent nearly six hours at the Cabinet Office Sunday in an effort to reach an agreement.

The deal, which was short of complete coalition but with agreement on a broad range of legislation, was within reach, Conservative party sources indicated.

However, Liberal Democrats called it “optimistic”.

“It’s more important to get this right than to be hasty. But we need to reach a deal before the public turns against the process,” a source was quoted as saying.

Conservative leader William Hague Monday morning said it was all “going well” as he arrived for renewed talks.

“We’re meeting now to discuss some specific ideas and proposals. We’re optimistic about making further progress very soon,” he said.

Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling, whose party got the thumbs down from the British electorate, told BBC Radio: “I don’t think it would do any good to let this process drag on. I understand that the Liberals and the Conservatives are engaged in talks today (Monday), I hope by the end of today they will decide whether they can do a deal or not.”

“I’m not saying that tomorrow’s the end of the world but I just make the general observation that there does come a point in any negotiations - either you can do a deal or you can’t.”

The political parties needed to reach the magic mark of 326 to have a clear majority in the 650-seat parliament. The Friday election result showed that the Conservatives bagged 306 seats while Labour netted 258 seats. Liberal Democrats got 57 seats. Election was postponed in one constituency following the death of a candidate during campaigning.

Clegg had held discussions with Brown for 70 minutes in the Foreign Office Sunday afternoon.

Brown reportedly offered the Liberal Democrats a full referendum on proportional representation. After meeting Brown, Clegg interacted with Cameron on “neutral territory” in Portcullis House, the MPs’ office block.

A note of caution on the likely deal was sounded by former Conservative prime minister John Major who warned both the Tories and Liberal Democrats against dissolving into “partisan self interest”.

Everyone should understand “there is going to have to be some compromise on both sides - cherished ideas may not be possible”, he said and warned against drawing up plans for electoral reform “on the back of an envelope”.

“The Labour Party, I gather, are offering all sorts of things - the earth as I understand it - in order to get a quick deal,” BBC quoted him as saying.

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