As majority eludes him, Cameron warns Brown against hanging on

David Cameron warned Gordon Brown not to try to "cling to power" after the Tories made gains from Labour but not enough to form a majority at Westminster.

Speaking at 3am after the count for his own Witney, Oxfordshire, seat, Mr Cameron sounded subdued but called for Mr Brown to go to make way for new leadership and stable government. "Nationally, we have to wait for the full results to come out. I believe it is already clear that the Labour Government has lost its mandate to govern our country," said Mr Cameron.

"Although there are still many more results to come, it looks as though the Conservative Party is on target to win more seats than it has done for 80 years. What is clear from these results is that our country wants change. That change is going to require new leadership."

In the opening salvos of a battle of wills over who rules Britain in a hung parliament, the Conservative leader and his Shadow Cabinet angrily criticised Labour ministers for claiming they could do a deal with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg to remain in office.

Mr Cameron hinted that he expected difficult horse-trading ahead before a government emerged. He said: "What will guide me in the hours ahead, and perhaps longer than the hours ahead, will be the national interest – to do what is right for our country, to make sure we have that government, have that stability, take the right decisions.

"We live in difficult times but this is a great country and we will come through them and be stronger.

"At all times what I will do is put the national interest first to make sure we have good, strong, stable government for our country."

Mr Cameron briefly visited party workers at the New Inn pub with his wife, Samantha, in his Witney, Oxfordshire, constituency, before going to the count and then travelling back to London to meet up with party workers and senior aides at the Conservative Party headquarters at Millbank Tower, where Labour celebrated victory 13 years ago. A Tory source described Mr Brown's determination to hold on to power as "breathtaking". He added: "Brown has never won a general election, looks set to lose a record number of seats, but still tries to cling to power."

Mr Cameron was given fresh hope of forming a majority, after the Tories made a string of gains, starting with Kingswood, near Bristol, where they overturned Labour's majority of 6,145 and unseated Roger Berry with a swing of 9.4 per cent. A Tory spokesman said: "Kingswood is just the sort of seat the Conservatives need to win an overall majority." As more Labour seats tumbled to the Tories, the Conservatives also took highly marginal Battersea, south London, previously held by Martin Linton for Labour with a majority of just 163.

However, the Tories failed to gain some of their targets including Torbay in the South-west, Tooting in London, and Angus which was held by the SNP. In a patchy performance, the Tories won Gainsborough, and the 99th target seat on the Tory list, Dover, from Labour, but failed to make any inroads in Labour-held Gedling.

One of Mr Cameron's biggest disappointments of the night came with the Tories' failure to gain Bolton North East from Labour. Mr Cameron took his campaign battlebus twice to the town, where local bakers, Wharburtons, made a £25,000 donation to Tory party funds. But the Tories did win Carlisle from Labour with a 7.7 per cent swing.

The Tories claimed a scalp when they took back Basildon South – one of the seats that produced "Essex Man" in the Thatcher era – by unseating Angela Smith, a parliamentary aide to Mr Brown. In Wales, the Tories took Aberconwy and Vale of Glamorgan from Labour and Liberal Democrat Lembit Opik's Montgomeryshire seat.

The Tories were delighted to win back High Peak in the Peak District. Dartford formerly held by Labour's Howard Stoate, a GP, was also taken back by the Tories.

Last night as the inquest started into why the Tories had not made more gains on their target list, questions were being asked about the impact of the millions of pounds poured into the battle for the marginal seats by Lord Ashcroft, the controversial "non-dom" Tory peer.

Mr Cameron was disappointed by the first exit poll predicting he would not reach the magic total of 326 seats to give him a majority, but he led Shadow Cabinet ministers in mounting a barrage against claims by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Lord Mandelson and other ministers to have a mandate to continue in power by doing a deal with Nick Clegg.

The shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, told ITV News: "I think Labour politicians like David Miliband need to get real. The election has taken place and on the basis of the exit poll the Labour Party has been decisively rejected." He went on: "The idea that Gordon Brown, David Miliband and the rest of them could cling on to power I think most people would find simply staggering."

Mr Cameron's aides said the exit poll predicting the Tories would win 305 seats would still "a basis to govern".

exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

C# Developer

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: My client is lo...

Business Project Manager

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager job vaca...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor