UK coalition talks continue

Talks between the Conservatives and Liberal
Democrats over a power-sharing government deal in the United Kingdom continued Sunday
amid signs of tension within both parties.

The election on Thursday failed to produce
a clear winner.

Senior Conservative and Lib Dem
frontbenchers met at the Cabinet Office in London to see if they could reach a
deal that would allow Tory leader David Cameron to replace Labour’s Gordon
Brown as Britain’s Prime Minister.

The Conservative delegation was led
by William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, who promised to take a
“constructive” approach.

“We’re very conscious of the
need to provide the country with a new stable and legitimate government as soon
as possible,” he told reporters as he arrived at the Cabinet Office.

“The initial meeting that we
had on Friday night and the meeting we had last night were both very constructive
and very respectful of each other’s positions.

“So we’re going into these
negotiations very much in that spirit today.”

The Conservatives won 306 seats in
the House of Commons in the national election Thursday, but they need 20 more
to gain a majority. They are hoping to reach a deal with the Liberal Democrats,
who won 57 seats. Labour secured 258 seats.

Talks began at 11am on Sunday
morning.

The tone of voice is completely
new,” said Paddy Ashdown, former Lib Dem leader, referring to the positive
approach taken by Mr Cameron towards a possible deal.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr
programme, he said: “I admire the way the Conservative party has responded to
this. David Cameron has shown a considerable degree of leadership.”

Earlier, Michael Gove, the shadow
schools secretary and a close ally of Mr. Cameron, appeared to concede the
possibility of the Lib Dems getting Cabinet seats as part of a deal.

“The precise shape of co-operation
between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrat Party is something that
is up for grabs at the moment,” he told the BBC. “There may be options between
those two that suit both sides.”

However, a senior backbench
Conservative warned Mr .Cameron that many of the party’s MPs would not support
a formal coalition with the Lib Dems.

Graham Brady, a contender for the
chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories told the BBC that it would be
better for the party to try to go it alone than do a deal.

“My inclination is more towards
seeking to operate as a minority government,” he said. “That, I think, is
generally the feeling of colleagues.”

Mr. Cameron will meet his
backbenchers at Westminster on Monday night to try to win support for the
negotiations.

Mr. Brady said that whatever the
outcome of the talks, Mr. Cameron should be “more inclusive” in his dealings
with Conservative MPs.

The Lib Dems are pressing for
movement towards ending the first-past-the-post electoral system, a demand that
many Tories reject.

Many grassroots Lib Dems are also
hostile to the Conservatives.

Simon Hughes, a leading left-wing
Lib Dem MP, made a public attack on the Tories and suggested no deal will be
possible.

“The further you go away from the
leadership the more unreconstructed they are,” he said.

“Our party has not seen the Tory
party as the party of constitutional and political reform,” Mr. Hughes added.
“Therefore they would be surprised if the Tory party delivered these things”.

Cayman connection

Although he
won re-election in Wales Thursday night, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Minister
Chris Bryant may not retain his position as Overseas Territories Minister when
Britain’s new parliament comes in office.

What effect
the UK election results’ would have on Cayman was not immediately known.
Observers said it was likely political wrangling over the form of the new
government would take a few weeks to sort out, although financial pressures
could force the formation of a government sooner.

Cayman is
awaiting the UK’s
approval of a three-year budget plan, which is crucial to the territory’s
ability to borrow further in the upcoming budget year. The Islands
are already late with their annual spending proposal, originally due to be
presented on 30 April.

Premier
McKeeva Bush has said the budget proposal will likely be delayed until mid-May
at least. The new budget year starts on 1 July.

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