Media vans are parked in different parts of Westminster as politicians rush about to pursue talks. There is pressure from the markets to get a government in place as soon as possible. There are political imperatives to form a government but these are somewhat less intense. The markets would like to see a government settled by Monday; whether the politicians can deliver that is another matter.
While discussions continue, Gordon Brown continues as Prime Minister. How long will he remain the occupant of No. 10? There are various possibilities.
1. David Cameron and Nick Clegg reach an agreement that both can sell to their parties. At this point, it becomes clear that Gordon Brown cannot command the confidence of the House of Commons and heads for the Palace. David Cameron becomes PM.
2. The Liberal Democrats fail to reach an agreement with David Cameron and instead indicate they can work with the Labour Party, but not under Gordon Brown. Brown resigns (as Labour leader?) and Labour selects a new leader who is then called to the Palace.
3. No agreement is reached between any of the parties. Brown realises he is unlikely to command the confidence of the Commons and resigns. David Cameron becomes head of a minority Conservative government.
4. Brown offers the Liberal Democrats a deal but subject to his remaining as PM. The Liberal Democrats accept and a minority coalition government is formed. Brown continues as PM unless and until defeated in the Queen’s Speech or a later vote of confidence.
5. Brown simply struggles on as PM as head of a (very) minority government and defies the other parties to vote down the Government on the Queen’s Speech. They vote it down. Brown resigns and David Cameron is summoned to the Palace.
I include the last scenario for the sake of completeness. Are there any other options – or at least vaguely realistic options? Of the foregoing options, which is the most likely to be realised? Can or rather will Gordon Brown survive as Prime Minister more than a few days?