Gordon Brown has just announced his resignation as the leader of the Labour Party and, therefore, as prime minister. This does not mean he is packing his bags with immediate effect. That still awaits either the successful formation of a Tory government, supported by the Liberal Democrats; or the new option that Brown has put on the table, a Lib-Lab government, led by a new leader of the Labour Party and prime minister. That option would probably not be fully in place until September.
This development means that the Lib Dems are either spoilt for choice, or facing an agonising dilemma – depending on your point of view. The attractions of a deal with the Tories remain powerful. A Tory-Lib arrangement would have a much stronger majority – and would match the public perception that the Conservatives won the election and that Labour lost. Getting rid of the famously Machiavellian Gordon Brown removes one powerful objection for the Lib Dems in dealing with Labour. But other problems remain. Both the Lib Dems and Labour lost seats in the election, so this might look like a “coalition of losers”. And the coalition’s majority would be wafer-thin and reliant on the votes of nationalist parties. It would look much less like the “strong stable” government that Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, insists is his goal. Read more