David Cameron said he was making a “big open offer” to the Liberal Democrats to join his party in government. In a passage highlighting similarities between their manifestos, he said: “We share a common commitment to civil liberties, and to getting rid — immediately — of Labour’s ID card scheme.”
Both parties had pledged to abolish the identity scheme in their manifestos. In addition, the Liberal Democrat manifesto says the party would scrap biometric fingerprint passports.
Cameron said he was willing to compromise and give ground in discussions with the Liberal Democrats, although he was unwilling to do this in controlling immigration, defence and transferring powers to the European Union. He also said “the bulk of the policies in our manifesto should be implemented”.
The statement, made at 2.30pm on 7 May 2010, came as all but eight of the UK’s 650 parliamentary seats had reported results in the general election.
With 302 MPs, the Conservative party could form a majority government — requiring 326 seats — with the Liberal Democrats’ 56, whereas the Labour party with 256 could not, even with the support of other sympathetic MPs from Northern Irish parties.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had earlier said his party would attempt to make a deal first with the Conservative party, given it had a higher share of the vote and more MPs. However, Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has offered the third party a referendum on electoral reform, whereas Cameron offered only an all-party committee of inquiry on this.