Gordon Brown has promised to play his part in securing “a stable, strong and principled government” after the UK election resulted in a hung parliament.

Labour won fewer seats than the Tories but nobody gained a majority. Labour say it is “too early to say” if they will do a deal with the Lib Dems.

The prime minister said he wanted a government which would lead Britain into a “sustained recovery”.

Mr Brown retained the seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in Fife.

But the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, said Mr Brown's eyes “spoke of defeat” during his victory speech.

In a statement issued on Friday morning, Mr Brown said it was his duty to “take all steps to ensure Britain has a strong, stable and principled government”.

“This is, of course, chiefly a task for politicians and – in time – for Parliament.

“But to facilitate this process and consistent with the conventions set out in the draft Cabinet Manual, I have asked the cabinet secretary to arrange for the civil service to provide support on request to parties engaged in discussions on the formation of government.”

Seventh successive win
Earlier, Mr Brown told supporters and opponents in Fife there was no greater privilege than to serve the people with whom he had grown up.

“I'm proud of much that the Labour government has achieved,” he said.

“The minimum wage, the child tax credit, the NHS renewed, more police officers, half a million children out of poverty, two million more jobs than in 1997.

“I'm proudest of all to have been returned as MP for Fife – now seven elections in a row – by the people who know me best, know who I am, what I stand for and what I went into politics to achieve.”

The British people have given him a big thumbs-down. I think the idea that Gordon Brown could stay on is extraordinary

Chris Grayling
Shadow home secretary
He said his “duty to the country” was to play his part in ensuring the UK had “a strong, stable and principled government, able to lead Britain into sustained economic recovery and able to implement our commitments to far-reaching reform to our political system – upon which there is a growing consensus in our country”.

With 34 constituencies still to declare, Labour have secured 247 seats, compared with 291 for the Conservatives.

A total of 326 MPs would have been needed for a majority.

It means the UK now has a hung parliament and Mr Brown continues as prime minister while he decides whether he could form a government, or whether he should allow David Cameron to do so.

'Rather surprising'
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said it would be “rather a surprising thing” if Mr Brown stood down as prime minister on Friday.

His duty was “to stay at his post, to continue doing his job and not resign until it is clear who the Queen should call as an alternative to form a new government, should Mr Brown not be able to do so”, the peer said.

“Either there has to be a minority government which tries its chances or a combination of other parties – in this case most likely the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats – would have to see if they can form some arrangement instead,” Lord Mandelson added.

But the shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, said “most of the British people this morning will look at the idea of Gordon Brown still in Downing Street, still trying to hold on to power, as being quite extraordinary”.

“He has no mandate,” Mr Grayling told GMTV.
“The British people have given him a big thumbs-down. I think the idea that Gordon Brown could stay on is extraordinary.”

Most of Labour's cabinet ministers retained their seats, but the Conservatives came within 1,100 votes of defeating Schools Secretary Ed Balls in Morley and Outwood in West Yorkshire.

There were defeats for two former home secretaries, however, as Jacqui Smith was beaten in Redditch and Charles Clarke lost in Norwich South.

Labour's Margaret Hodge successfully defended Barking in east London from a challenge by British National Party leader Nick Griffin, who came third.

She said voters had sent a clear message to the BNP, telling them: “Pack your bags and go.”