Weber Shandwick chairman of corporate communications and public affairs Jon McLeod said: ‘As nuclear buttons go, it was a cracker.'
Fleishman-Hillard head of corporate communications and issues management David Hart said Brown's decision made him ‘one of, if not the most, calculating and tribal Prime Ministers of the modern era'. He added: ‘It was a last gasp attempt to cling on to power and salvage an unlikely coalition with the Lib Dems for Labour.'
Hart said Brown's announcement had changed the nature of the negotiations and turned them into a media frenzy. ‘What were, reportedly, positive and amicable talks in private, burst into the media spotlight with public declarations of ‘final offers' from the Tories and the admission from the Lib-Dems that formal negotiations were ongoing with Labour.
‘However, the Lib Dems have very little time available (hours rather than days) to them before the media and the markets get restless. They know what is on the table from both sides. It is make your mind up time for Mr Clegg and his party.'
Meanwhile, Mandate chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said the new developments leave the Liberal Democrats in a difficult position. ‘The Lib Dems find themselves in a tricky position when it comes to the media. My advice would be that they need to steer clear of impromptu comment to the media today, but plan for a powerful high impact series of interviews this evening and tomorrow, when they make a clear case that their decision was in the interests of the country.'
McLeod denied that Brown's resignation meant that a coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems was now inevitable.
‘It doesn't change the Parliamentary arithmetic and it doesn't mean the Lib Dems are set to jump into bed with Labour. There are emnities between Labour and the Lib Dems just a venal as those between the Tories and the Lib Dems.
‘The idea of throwing the nationalists into the mix, triangulated by a Labour leadership struggle between second generation Brownites and Blairites is a triumph of optimism on Labour's part. Who knows?'