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David Cameron named new UK prime minister after Brown resigns

The Conservative Party leader David Cameron swiftly moved into 10 Downing Street on Tuesday as the UK's first Conservative Party prime minister in 13 years. Gordon Brown steps down.

By Correspondent / May 11, 2010

Britain's new prime minister, David Cameron, with his wife, Samantha, waves outside 10 Downing Street in London on Tuesday.

Simon Dawson/AP

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London

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's eleventh-hour bid to hold on to power ended Tuesday and he resigned, paving the way for Conservative Party leader David Cameron to lead the country.

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Mr. Brown's resignation ended days of political uncertainty following the May 6 British election that the Tories won, but without an absolute majority. In recent days Brown had sought an alliance with the third placed Liberal Democrats to remain at 10 Downing St., despite an election that handed Labour its worst drubbing in almost 70 years

Instead, centrist Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg opted to align with Cameron's Conservatives, and both parties announced the formation of Britain’s first coalition government since the end of World War II, ending 13 years of power for Labour. Shortly after Brown's resignation, Mr. Cameron trekked to Buckingham Palace to receive Queen Elizabeth II's blessing to form a government.

"I aim to form a proper and real coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats," Prime Minister Cameron said on the steps of 10 Downing Street, his new home. "I believe that is the best way to get the strong government that we need, the decisive government that we need, today."

Brown was apparently dissuaded in his quest to find the votes to remain prime minister from some members of his own party. "I think from the point of view of the Labour Party if we appear to not be accepting the decision of the electorate – the biggest loss in our history apart from 1931 – and I think if we now decide that we're just going to [ignore] the electorate, or look that way, that the electorate will wreak vengeance upon us," former Home Secretary John Reid told reporters before Brown resigned.

But Conservative-Liberal coalition may itself not last any longer than a few months if the two parties policy differences widen. Historically, British coalitions have been short-lived.

Prime Minister Cameron

A career politician from an upper class background who moved the Conservative Party to the center, Cameron is the 19th graduate of the elite British boarding school Eton to become prime minister, and the first Conservative to occupy 10 Downing since John Major departed in 1997.

Following days of negotiations between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, public impatience with a government in limbo since May 6 had started to show.

The biggest challenge facing the new government is how it will tackle the UK’s deficit, which the European Commission has forecast will be the biggest in the bloc by the end of the year.

During the election campaign, the two parties had been at loggerheads on how soon the cuts should begin – with the Tories wanting an emergency austerity budget within weeks of taking power and the Liberal Democrats advocating a one-year moratorium on cuts in order not to jeopardize Britain’s fragile recovery.

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