I wanted to explain to you the decision I have taken today.
I have said since Friday that it is crucial that this country, which I love so dearly, has a principled and strong government that can meet the challenge of securing the recovery and changing our politics.
As we know, the Liberal Democrats felt that they should first talk to the Conservative Party. Mr Clegg has just informed me this afternoon that he intends to continue those discussions and now wants to open up formal discussions with the Labour Party. I think it is sensible that we respond positively.
It is clear to me that there is a progressive majority in Britain and I believe it could be in the interests of the whole country to form a progressive coalition government. If the national interest can be served by such a coalition then I should discharge the duty to form that government.
But I have no desire to stay in my position longer than is needed to ensure that the path to progress is assured. The reason we have a hung Parliament is that no single party and no single leader was able to win the full support of the country. As the leader of this great party, I must accept that is a judgement on me.
Therefore I intend to ask the Labour Party to set in train the process needed for a leadership election. I would hope for a leader to be in place by Labour Party conference. I will play no part in that contest and will back no individual candidate.
Once again can I thank you for your unstinting help and commitment to this wonderful party. Sarah and I appreciate the kindness you have shown us over the years.
I will of course stay in contact with you over the coming weeks and months.