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In U.K.: Brown Stepping Down; Labor And Lib Dems May Form Coalition

Brown spoke outside No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) hide caption

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Brown spoke outside No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that he is stepping down as leader of his Labour Party, which means his role as prime minister will soon come to a close as well. And he said that Labor is going to begin formal coalition talks with the Liberal Democrat Party. (BBC News)

As The Times of London writes, "this is astonishing. A Lib/Lab coalition is once again on the cards — and Gordon Brown falls on his sword to help it happen."

Last Thursday's general election in the U.K., you'll recall, ended with Brown's ruling Labour Party in second. Conservatives won more seats in parliament — but not enough to form a coalition on their own. That left the Liberal Democrats, who came in third, in the position of being able to swing the outcome if they could reach a deal with one of the other two parties on a coalition government.

In recent days, talks had been under way between the Lib Dems and Conservatives. But just a short time ago, The Guardian writes, Brown said that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg "rang him recently ... to say he would like to have formal talks with a Labor team."

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The Guardian adds that Brown said he is willing to stay in office until a new government is formed.

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET: From London, NPR's Rob Gifford reports that analysts say Lib Dem leader Clegg "may have said Gordon Brown stepping down was a condition for his doing a deal with Labor." And now, Rob says, there's a distinct possibility that Conservative leader David Cameron will not be Britain's next prime minister.

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: The Guardian has posted audio of Brown's brief remarks here. "As the leader of my party," he says at one point, "I must accept" that the election outcome "is a judgment on me."