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'New politics' as Tory/Lib Dem deal published

By Penny Ayres

Updated on 12 May 2010

David Cameron and Nick Clegg host their first joint press conference of the coalition government, promising an "historic and seismic shift" as details of their coalition deal are published.

Nick Clegg and David Cameron

Standing side-by-side in the Downing Street garden, Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron made their second appearance together in public today.

Prime Minister Cameron had earlier met his new deputy at the door of No 10 this morning when the pair shook hands in front of waiting media.

This afternoon, Mr Cameron told reporters: "It will be administration united behind three key principles: freedom, fairness and responsibility.

"And it will be an administration united behind one key purpose and that is to give our country the strong and stable and determined leadership that we need for the long-term."

He went on to say: "Our Liberal-Conservative government will take Britain in a historic new direction, a direction of hope and unity, conviction and common purpose.

"I'm delighted to be standing here with the new Deputy Prime Minister, the two of us together leading this historic Liberal Democrat-Conservative administration."

Mr Clegg added: "Until today we were rivals and now we are colleagues. And that says a lot about the scale of the new politics which is now beginning to unfold.

"This is a new government, and it's a new kind of government, a radical, reforming government where it needs to be and a source of reassurance and stability at a time of great uncertainty in our country too."

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition deal
- Read the deal's details

The two party leaders went out of their way to demonstrate they had a good working relationship.

Channel 4 News political editor Gary Gibbon said party colleagues believed it was genuine.

"I was talking to one Lib Dem minister of state, and he said it is no great surprise these two get on together, they're culturally very similar."

"It was a good production. After a prime minister who, in his own words, wasn't always comfortable in front of the camera, didn't always look entirely comfortable in his own skin. Here you have two people who clearly feel both."

Economic challenges
Both leaders made references to the economic challenges ahead. Mr Cameron said that the rising unemployment figures released this morning were "another sign of the human cost of the economic mistakes of the past decade".

"We understand that we are not going to beat these problems overnight and in particular no government in modern times has ever been left with such a terrible economic inheritance," he said, insisting that unlike a "chronic short-termism in government" under Labour the five-year coalition deal would allow long-term decisions.

Mr Clegg listed the economy, Afghanistan and inequality among the problems facing the country, saying: "At a time of such enormous difficulties our country needed a strong and stable government."

"It needed an ambitious government determined to work relentlessly for a better future.

"And that is what we have come together in this coalition to provide."

'Government will last'
He added: "This is a Government that will last. Not because of a list of policies, important though they are; not because it will be easy, there will be bumps and scrapes along the way, we are different parties and we have different ideas.

"This is a Government that will last despite those differences because we are united by a common purpose for the job we want to do together in the next five years.

"Our ambition is simple and yet profound. Our ambition is to put real power and opportunity into the hands of people, families and communities to change their lives and our country for the better.

"For me, that's what liberalism is all about: ensuring that everybody has the chance, no matter who they are, where they are from, to be the person they want to be, to live the life they want to live."

Political reform
Mr Cameron said that part of Nick Clegg's role as deputy prime minister would be political reform, and that Mr Clegg would be based in the Cabinet Office.

He also confirmed that there will be early legislation on fixed term parliaments, one of the commitments in the coalition agreement between the two parties.

Mr Clegg will stand in for Mr Cameron at prime minister's questions where necessary, but they will campaign against each other in elections, including the Thirsk and Malton contest coming up.

Mr Cameron reiterated his opposition to proportional representation and the Alternative Vote, which formed a central part of the negotiations.

"I've made very clear my views about our electoral system and about proportional representation," he said.

"But I feel it was right, given the result, given the need for strong and stable government, to make the important concession of saying that we should have a referendum on the alternative vote system."

'Big risks'
Mr Clegg said both party leaders had taken "big risks" in joining forces and their parties "a very, very big step" away from previous political norms.

We will now have to show the sceptics who predict that it will go wrong that they are wrong," he said.

Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg were in buoyant mood at their news conference, joshing about Mr Cameron's famous dismissal of his new partner as a "joke".

The prime minister closed the press conference to continue appointing his cabinet, which will include five places for the Liberal Democrats including Mr Clegg.

The Cabinet appointees are:
• Nick Clegg (Lib Dem): deputy prime minister
• George Osborne (Cons): chancellor of the exchequer
• William Hague (Cons): foreign secretary
• Theresa May (Cons): home secretary, minister for women 
• Liam Fox (Cons): defence secretary
• Kenneth Clarke (Cons): lord chancellor, justice secretary
• Andrew Lansley (Cons): health secretary
• Vince Cable (Lib Dem): business secretary
• Chris Huhne (Lib Dem): energy and climate change
• Michael Gove (Cons): schools secretary
• Patrick McLoughlin (Cons): chief whip
• David Laws (Lib Dem): chief secretary to the Treasury 
• Michael Gove (Cons): education secretary
• Philip Hammond (Cons): transport secretary
• Danny Alexander (Lib Dem): Scottish secretary
• Eric Pickles (Cons): communities secretary
• Owen Paterson (Cons): Northern Ireland secretary
• Iain Duncan Smith (Cons): work and pensions secretary
• Jeremy Hunt (Cons): culture, Olympics, media and sport
• Cheryl Gillan (Cons): Welsh secretary
• International Development Secretary (Cons): Andrew Mitchell
• Leader of the House of Lords (Cons): Lord Strathclyde
• Minister without Portfolio (Cons): Baroness Warsi

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