With Jim and Alex still on frontline duties, Helen Warrell and Johanna Kassel, who have helped steer the FT’s online election coverage, will keep you up-to-date with the most recent results.
Jim Pickard says:
Brown has dug his heels in, effectively saying: the ball is in your court. It’s now up to Cameron and Clegg to make a deal – or fail. Labour still believe that the Lib Dems are philosophically closer to them than to David Cameron and therefore the initial talks could fail. I’m not sure that’s right. ‘Orange book’ modernisers such as David Laws and Nick Clegg are free market liberals as opposed to the sandals-lentils types.
Meanwhile Charlie Whelan is already rehearsing the justification for a Lib-Lab pact if Clegg-Cameron discussions founder. The two ‘progressive’ parties won 53 per cent of the vote, he points out.
Snap analysis from Robert Shrimsley:
Oh my God, it’s like Friday the 13th. You think he’s finally been killed off and then up he pops again brandishing – if not a machete, then an even larger and sharper offer to keep himself in power. He’s just recorded a result barely better than Michael Foot’s but he is not giving in.
It has been a morning of increasingly naked offers to the Lib Dems but now with Gordon Brown’s statement in Downing Street and offer of “immediate legislation” on electoral reform the prime minister is making one last desperate pitch to the Lib Dems not to do the deal with David Cameron. This is a direct appeal over Nick Clegg’s head to the other leading Lib Dems, effectively saying “look the deal is here on the table – don’t let this man who’s already cocked up the election for you pass up your best ever chance of laying your hands on the holy grail of voting reform”.
On the other hand – it s a bit grubby. The case for electoral reform may well have been made but it is hardly the first priority for the next government requiring immediate legislation. Mr Brown is still fighting for his life and who knows how many more times he will have to be killed off before he gives up.
“For my part, I must make clear I would be willing to see any of the party leaders … Clearly if the discussions between Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg come to nothing then I would be prepared to meet with Mr Clegg”