For five days Britain had no government and only a lame duck prime minister. On Tuesday night, Gordon Brown brought that period to an end, by announcing he was stepping down as Prime Minister.
“My constitutional duty is to make sure that a government can be formed following last Thursday’s general election,” Brown told reporters. “I have informed the Queen’s Private Secretary that it is my intention to tender my resignation to the Queen. In the event that the Queen accepts, I shall advise her to invite the leader of the Opposition to seek to form a government. My resignation as leader of the Labour Party will take effect inmediatly.”
Brown held Britain’s top job for less than three years, during which he had to struggle, first of all for not being Tony Blair or possessing his easy charm, and then for steering Britain into a perfect financial storm few believed he had not seen coming.
Brown would argue he had delivered unprecedented growth for 10 years as finance minister, but once prime minister he gave the impression of lurching from dispute to crisis, challenged from within his own party, by the army over support for troops in Afghanistan, and by a public, especially in England, that refused to warm to him.
Brown claimed he was the right man in the right place at the right time whan the financial crisis struck, and that his efforts had begun to bear fruit, with the economy showing signs of recovery in recent months.
But the MPs’ expenses scandal tarred the fastidious Brown with the brush more apt for less honourable colleagues, and it was the last straw for an electorate who saw him as lacking control or a desire to change things for the better.
The era of Gordon Brown is over. The era of David Cameron is about to begin.