LONDON, United Kingdom, May 8 – Against all predictions, David Cameron on Friday won the first Conservative majority since 1992, securing himself another term as Britain’s prime minister and silencing his critics – at least for now.
The 48-year-old’s failure to win a majority in the House of Commons at the last election, after 13 years of a Labour government, had dogged him for the past five years as he led a coalition with the smaller Liberal Democrats.
But a photo posted on his Twitter feed as the results rolled in, showing him with his arms around his beaming wife Samantha, said it all. “Here’s to a brighter future for everyone,” the message said.
Opinion polls before Thursday’s vote had pointed to a result in which neither the Conservatives nor Labour would win a majority of Commons seats.
Faced with the prospect of another coalition, or even defeat if Labour managed to team up with the Scottish nationalists, talk had already begun about who would succeed Cameron. READ: Cameron set for UK poll win as Scottish nationalists triumph.
But it is now Labour leader Ed Miliband who is standing down, and Cameron bounced enthusiastically into Conservative party headquarters on Friday morning declaring the vote “the sweetest victory of them all”.
Cameron will not have a large majority, however, meaning he will have to keep his party in line to push through his legislative programme, including a second round of unpopular spending cuts.
He must also fulfil his promise to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the European Union ahead of a promised in-or-out referendum by 2017, and may yet fall foul of his rebellious eurosceptic backbenchers.
To top it off, Cameron has promised to step down as leader before the next election in 2020, raising the prospect of an internal party race to succeed him well before then.