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Prime Minister Gordon Brown Cedes Office to Conservative David Cameron

May 11, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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JIM LEHRER: There was a fast-moving transition of power in Britain today. Conservative Leader David Cameron became prime minister, after Labor Party head Gordon Brown resigned.

Brown made a statement to the assembled media outside Number 10 Downing Street, his home for the last three years. His resignation brings the Labor Party’s 13 years in power to a close.

GORDON BROWN, former British prime minister: As you know, the general election left no party able to command a majority in the House of Commons.

I said I would do all that I could to ensure a strong, stable, and principled government was formed, able to tackle Britain’s economic and political challenges effectively.

My constitutional duty is to make sure that a government can be formed following last Thursday’s general election. I have informed the queen’s private secretary that it’s my intention to tender my resignation to the queen. In the event that the queen accepts, I shall advise her to invite the leader of the opposition to seek to form a government.

I wish the next prime minister well as he makes the important choices for the future. Only those who have held the office of prime minister can understand the full weight of its responsibilities and its great capacity for good.

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. And, yes, I loved the job, not for its prestige, its titles, and its ceremony, which I do not love at all. No, I loved the job for its potential to make this country I love fairer, more tolerant, more green, more democratic, more prosperous, and more just, truly a greater Britain.

My resignation as the leader of the Labor Party will take effect immediately. And, as I leave the second most important job I could ever hold, I cherish even more the first, as a husband and father.

Thank you, and goodbye.

JIM LEHRER: After that statement, Brown and his family walked to a waiting car.

The outgoing prime minister then went to Buckingham Palace to formally tender his resignation with the queen.

And, an hour-and-a-half later, the new prime minister stood in front of that same lectern and laid out his goals for the new coalition government.

DAVID CAMERON, British prime minister: I aim to form a proper and full coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

I believe that is the right way to provide this country with the strong, the stable, the good and decent government that I think we need so badly.

Nick Clegg and I are both political leaders who want to put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and for the national interest. I believe that is the best way to get the strong government that we need, decisive government that we need today.

I came into politics because I love this country. I think its best days still lie ahead, and I believe deeply in public service. And I think the service our country needs right now is to face up to our really big challenges, to confront our problems, to take difficult decisions, to lead people through those difficult decisions, so that, together, we can reach better times ahead.

This is going to be hard and difficult work. A coalition will throw up all sorts of challenges. But I believe, together, we can provide that strong and stable government that our country needs, based on those values: rebuilding family, rebuilding community, above all, rebuilding responsibility in our country. Those are the things I care about. Those are the things that this government will now start work on doing.

Thank you very much.

JIM LEHRER: And Cameron and his wife entered their new home at 10 Downing Street. President Obama was the first world leader to telephone him and offer his congratulations.

Late today, it was announced that Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, will be the deputy prime minister.

Jeffrey Brown has more.