U.K's Brown Quits; Cameron Becomes Prime Minister
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Britain finally has a new government and a new prime minister. Late this afternoon, Queen Elizabeth asked David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, to form a government. Cameron is 43 years old. He takes his post after last Thursday's inconclusive general election and five days of negotiations between different parties.
NPR's Rob Gifford is in London. He joins us now. And, Rob, it seems Britain is going to have a coalition government?
ROB GIFFORD: That's right, Robert, first time in 70 years, in fact. The last time there was a hung Parliament in an election 36 years ago, it didn't end up being a coalition. This is the first time for decades. It's going to be between the Conservative Party, led by David Cameron, and the Liberal Democrat Party, led by Nick Clegg.
There was even more back and forth today, even more negotiations between the different sides, but, eventually, they seem to have reached an agreement. The Liberal Democrats couldn't reach an agreement with the Labour Party. They've gone in with the Tories, with the Conservatives.
And this evening, David Cameron went to see the queen and came and stood on the steps of No. 10 Downing Street, and here's something of what he had to say this evening.
Prime Minister DAVID CAMERON (United Kingdom): I want us to build an economy that rewards work. I want us to build a society with stronger families and stronger communities, and I want a political system that people can trust and look up to once again. This is going to be hard and difficult work.
SIEGEL: Rob, tell us a bit about this man, Britain's new young prime minister.
GIFFORD: Well, yes, he's 43, as you said. He's the youngest prime minister for nearly 200 years. He is very much a son of privilege. He went to Eaton, the poshest private school here, and Oxford University. He got the top degree - one of the top degrees in his year. He got a first class honors degree at Oxford.
He then went into politics, briefly, as an adviser to the Conservative Party, as a researcher. He then worked in business as head of public relations for a big television company here. Then became an MP, a Member of Parliament, nine years ago, and then became head of the Tory Party.
As you heard from that clip, he's very much about traditional conservative values, about hard work. He emphasizes the family, family values. These are ranked very strong Tory values, but he's also something new as well.
Some people have called him the conservative Tony Blair because he is really trying to modernize the Conservative Party and make it electable and to take away - it started to become known as the nasty party because it was seen as small minded and small hearted, and he has very much tried to change that.
SIEGEL: By becoming prime minister, Cameron puts an end to 13 years of Labour Party rule - first, Tony Blair as prime minister and now Gordon Brown. How did Gordon Brown, now the former prime minister, announce his departure today?
GIFFORD: Well, he was very dignified in defeat, eventually, when it became clear he could not form an alliance. To be fair to Gordon Brown, he did come in to power at the end of 10 years of Tony Blair, when people were already feeling that new Labour had perhaps run its course, and then we had the financial meltdown. And he's not really a natural. He's not a PR natural, and he admitted that in the speech that he made today on the steps of No. 10.
Mr. GORDON BROWN (Former Prime Minister, United Kingdom): I have been privileged to learn much about the very best in human nature, and a fair amount, too, about its frailties, including my own. Above all, it was a privilege to serve.
GIFFORD: And so you heard there a little bit of what Gordon Brown said, a privilege to serve. And really that was what many people said, a public servant committed to the last, but he didn't have it for the media age.
SIEGEL: Thank you, Rob. NPR's Rob Gifford in London.
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