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Al Jazeera English

UK's Ruling Coalition Begins Work


Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wave on the steps of 10 Downing Street in London May 12, 2010. (REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Britain's first coalition government since 1945
has begun setting out its main policy goals, with tackling the country's
record budget deficit high on the agenda.

David Cameron, the new prime minister, welcomed his coalition partner
Nick Clegg outside his residence at 10 Downing Street in London on
Wednesday, marking the formal beginning of their power-sharing

Cameron has promised that the alliance will be a
"full and proper" coalition between the two parties.

The Liberal Democrats, who came third in last week's inconclusive
election, have been given a number of cabinet seats, with Clegg taking
the role of deputy prime minister.

"This is going to be hard and difficult work. A
coalition will throw up all sorts of challenges," Cameron said in his
first speech as prime minister.

"But I believe together we can
provide that strong and stable government that our country needs."

The new government is expected to immediately begin tackling
Britain's record $236bn deficit, with the European Union highlighting
the need for "common responses" to economic crises.

'Structural reforms'

George Osborne, the new finance minister, said the government
planned "long-term structural reforms of the banking system, of
education and of welfare so that we have an economy that works for

The coalition was formed
after no party managed to gain a clear parliamentary majority in the May
6 election.

But Cameron, whose party won the most seats in the poll, announced
his party would be joining forces with the Liberal Democrats after
Gordon Brown resigned from his post as prime minister on Tuesday

Brown stood down after Labour failed to clinch a deal with the
Liberal Democrats.

Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera's correspondent in London, said the
power-sharing agreement was the work of five days of intense

"The Liberal Democrats will be full partners in the coalition with
seats in the cabinet, and more power than the election results perhaps
suggested," he said.

Cabinet posts


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A number of cabinet positions have already been announced, with more
to come later on Wednesday. 

William Hague, a former Conservative
leader, will serve as foreign minister and Liam Fox will be the defence

Theresa May, who had been shadow work and pensions secretary, has
been appointed as interior minister.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats economic spokesman, will become
the government's banking minister and Chris Huhne, another Liberal
Democrat MP, will take on the role of environment secretary.

Markets had been impatient to see an end to the uncertainty thrown up
by last week's election and Britain's sterling currency rose against
the dollar and the euro as Cameron spoke.

But some in the finance industry have expressed doubts about Osborne,
an untested cabinet minister, becoming chancellor at a time when the
economy is emerging from the worst recession since the Second World War.

EU concerns

Barack Obama, the US president, was one of the first world leaders to
congratulate Cameron on his appointment, affirming the two countries'
"special relationship".

The leaders of Germany and France also congratulated the new prime
minister, while the European Commission underlined the need for common
responses to economic challenges in a congratulatory note to Cameron.

European leaders are wary of the prime minister's centre-right
Conservatives coming to power because they are more hostile to the
27-country European Union than the outgoing Labour party.

Manuel Barroso, president of the EU executive, said Cameron's government
faced difficult choices in difficult times but he was confident it
would chart the right course to steer Britain out of crisis and towards
sustainable growth.

Cameron is widely expected to want to show
more eurosceptic members of his party that he will defend Britain's
interests strongly in the EU.

But the new government could face internal problems over Europe, as
Clegg, once a member of the European parliament, has long been a
supporter of the EU.

Al Jazeera and agencies

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