Media warn UK's power couple

2010-05-13 11:42
London – Britain's new leaders appear to have hit it off; with commentators on Thursday saying their first appearance together was more like a civil partnership ceremony than the launch of a coalition.

But the country's newspapers warned Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservatives and his deputy Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat chief, that their happy marriage would be severely tested by tough times ahead.

To the astonishment of seasoned observers more used to politicians trading blows than compliments, the pair strode side-by-side on Wednesday into the leafy Downing Street garden for a well-humoured joint press conference.

"After a whirlwind romance, the big day," said the Guardian daily, of the event that launched Britain's first coalition government since World War 2.

Civil ceremony

"It looked like a civil ceremony. A press conference like that might be illegal in 45 American states."

The Sun added: "It was the quickest marriage in political history, and yesterday the nation was asked to bless it."

Front pages were filled with photos of the political union. The Guardian christened them "The Happy Couple at Number 10", the Daily Mail hailed "The Great No 10 Love-In", while The Express declared simply: "It's Love".

The Conservatives came first in the May 6 general election, but were just short of the number of seats needed to govern alone and easily oust the Labour party after 13 years.

Rewarded with ministerial positions

They turned to the Liberal Democrats – who came third behind Labour – to give them the extra seats needed to form a government. The Lib Dems were rewarded with a raft of senior ministerial positions.

Despite the upbeat tone in many papers on Thursday, others were less optimistic and predicted the happy couple's swiftly arranged union was a marriage of convenience that would be torn asunder by the challenges it faced.

"The Dave and Nick Show was impressive yesterday but it will be very hard to keep it on the road," said the Independent newspaper.

The incoming government must implement sharp cuts to public spending in a bid to reduce the country's record deficit, which is at the highest level since World War 2.

Fragile recovery from recession

Britain has also suffered its worst recession since the 1930s. It came out of the downturn at the end of last year but the recovery is fragile.

Despite comprises on many issues, the Independent pointed to a raft of deep-seated differences hanging over the coalition, such as Europe and nuclear power.

Such differences were "a sign of their different instincts – and, inevitably, of trouble ahead".

The Guardian also saw obstacles on the road ahead, warning that the "summer wedding was happy, but the trials of marriage have only just begun".

Read more on:    david cameron  |  nick clegg  |  uk elections
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