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UK hot-swaps leaders - Brown out, Cameron in

Gordon gets his cards. The rest of us won't...

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David Cameron took the keys of Downing Street this evening, ending uncertainty over the country's leadership and ushering in what promises to be a period of austerity for the UK's public sector and its IT suppliers.

Gordon Brown stepped down as Prime Minister at around 7.30pm, having submitted his resignation to the Queen at Buckingham Palace during a 15-minute meeting. The brief meeting put an end to days of uncertainty after last Thursday's election left no party with outright control of the UK's House of Commons.

It was a surprise move, given negotiations with the Liberal Democrats over a possible coalition government were in motion as late as this afternoon.

Shortly after Brown left Buck House, Conservative Party leader David Cameron met the Queen to be invited to become the PM. Cameron accepted the offer at 8.35pm. That meant for a period, the UK had no elected leader.

At the time of writing, Cameron was being shown round his new digs at Downing Street. His first piece of business as PM is expected to be a security briefing.

Cameron has taken power, even though his party does not have enough seats in the House of Commons to form a majority government.

The Tories are expected to form a coalition with Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats. The question is what price Clegg will exact and whether a coalition can hold. While Clegg campaigned on reform of the electoral system this is something the Tories do not favor.

Cameron and Clegg were both due to detail their deal to their respective MPs this evening.

Amid the unknowns are how many Liberal Democrats will take positions in the cabinet - this is the first time in British politics since the Second World War when British political parties have divvied up the Cabinet seats

However, other bigger questions linger on spending and Government policy that will have a direct impact the tech sector, IT projects and on technology in government. Cameron's talked of "economies" in Whitehall while Clegg wants to cut big-ticket items like Trident.

Savings could certainly be had by cutting of the Brown Government's flagship initiatives. The Tories promised to scrap ID cards, the National Identity Register and the Contactpoint DNA database. The LibDems made similar commitments, so the ID card scheme should be an early casualty.

The Tories also pledged to freeze major new Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) spending, and start negotiations cost reductions from major suppliers.

The Tories also look like following many European and US authorities on open source and open standards. The party has promised to make government data available upon request in open-standard formats.®

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