After the loss of majority power for his Labour Party in British Parliamentary elections last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced he will resign as leader of the party effective in September. He also took responsibility for Labour’s loss in the election, which saw the rival Tories (termed by some Conservatives) gain a plurality of seats, but not enough to form a government outright.
Brown’s resignation is likely the result of a power-brokering deal being worked out between Tories, Labour and the third-party Liberal Democrats to form a government.
The twists and turns of parliamentary negotiating may seem arcane to Americans across the pond, but make no mistake – any time a world leader is forced to step aside due to electoral pressure, it’s a big deal regardless of whether you comprehend the foreign partisan implications. Labour lost 100 seats in the election, and they’re lucky that the Tories didn’t pick up just a hair more.
Brown gets to be the scapegoat for now, though, as Britons are growing increasingly frustrated with a sluggish economy and increasing government debt. The icing on the cake was Brown’s comment, captured by microphone, about what he termed a “bigoted woman” who had asked him about tackling Britain’s debt. No amount of apologizing could undo the damage, and Brown’s fate is now sealed.
It’s unclear who will succeed Brown as Labour leader, but the leader of the Tories and the likely incoming Prime Minister, David Cameron, won’t be as amenable to President Obama’s agenda. Brown was a like-minded ally to Barack Obama, and his exit may leave the White House without a key partner in global initiatives like climate change and the European missile shield. What’s certain, however, is that the tenor of Anglo-American relations will be altered to one extent or another.