Cameron as caretaker Prime Minister? MPs press for ruling

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said the 'rules of the game' for a hung parliament should be clarified urgently

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David Cameron should stay on as a caretaker prime minister if Labour wins more votes and seats than the Conservatives in May’s election but fails to win an overall majority, MPs will suggest today.

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said the “rules of the game” for a hung parliament should be clarified urgently to make clear that a defeated prime minister should remain until another government forms.

In 2010, Mr Cameron accused Gordon Brown of “squatting” in Downing Street while he was trying to forge a Labour coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Mr Brown resigned five days after the election, when the Tory-Lib Dem coalition was formed.

Today’s report by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee suggests Mr Brown was within his rights and doing his duty. The Cabinet Manual, which spells out the rules for politicians and civil servants, would allow Mr Cameron to do the same if there were another hung parliament after the May election.

The committee called on Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, to spell out before the election the rules for an incumbent prime minister if no party wins an overall majority.

Graham Allen, the committee’s Labour chairman, said: "In the absence of a written constitution, these things are governed by convention, so you can see how in some circumstances an impasse or power vacuum could arise. It would be much better to have clarity, and to have the rules of the game clearly set out in the Cabinet Manual.”

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