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The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition Government


In May 2010 a General Election for the British Parliament was held in Britain. The Conservative Party gained the most seats in Parliament. However no one political party gained 326 seats. This gives them enough seats by themselves to ask the Queen to form a Government and for the Leader of that party to become the next Prime Minister.

Key Figures

Gordon Brown MP – Leader of the Labour Party and current Prime Minister

David Cameron MP – Leader of the Conservative Party

Nick Clegg MP– Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party

William Hague MP – Shadow Foreign Secretary and Chief Negotiator for the Conservatives

Danny Alexander MP – Chief Negotiator for the Liberal Democrats

Key Facts

  • This was the first peacetime Coalition Government since 1931.
  • The coalition parties combined had 59% of the vote from those eligible in the 2010 General Election.
  • Gordon Brown had been Prime Minister since taking over from Tony Blair in June 2007

What happened?

From the time the election result was known the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats entered into intense negotiations against a backdrop of the current Prime Minister attempting to form his own Government if they could not strike a deal.

The negotiations took place in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR) led by William Hague and Danny Alexander. These rooms are well known for their use during crises when top ranking officials and politicians attend meetings known as COBR due to the location.

On Tuesday 11 May, Gordon Brown resigned as Prime Minister bringing to an end 13 years of the Labour Party being in power. He gave a speech outside No.10 with his wife Sarah and their two sons at his side. Mr Brown said the job had been a ‘privilege’. In stepping down, Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman became the Leader of the Labour Party ahead of a contest.

After seeking permission from Queen Elizabeth II to form a Government, David Cameron became the 53rd Prime Minister of Great Britain and Nick Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister. After posing together outside No.10 Downing Street, they launched the coalition Government on 12 May to the eagerly waiting press in the Rose Garden of No.10.

The Coalition Agreement

The Coalition Agreement is a document driven by three principles: Freedom; Fairness and Responsibility. The Agreement covered a wide range of issues but crucially it stated that tackling the economic deficit at the time took precedent over any of the other measures in the agreement.

Cameron and Clegg described the agreement as ‘ a historic document in British Politics’ recognizing that although there were differences between them there was also ‘common ground’.

Read the full Coalition Foreword