Britain’s opposition Conservatives offered to work with their smaller Liberal Democrats rivals in government on Friday after a dramatic parliamentary election that produced no outright winner for the first time since 1974. The result unnerved investors worried that a weak government and protracted negotiations over who should lead the country would hamper efforts to cut the country’s massive debts.
The centre-right Conservatives won the most seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, comfortably ahead of the ruling centre-left Labour Party but not in overall control. The centrist Liberal Democrats came a distant third.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown remained in office in a caretaker role pending the emergence of a new government, in accordance with British constitutional convention. He said the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had every right to try to do a deal first but was ready to talk to the Lib Dems about an agreement if discussions failed. A Lib Dem/ Conservative deal would almost certainly end his tenure as party leader.
With results in 649 out of the 650 parliamentary constituencies declared, the Conservatives had won 306 seats, followed by Labour on 258 and the Lib Dems on 57.