Obama re-elected as Romney concedes defeat

US president wins decisive re-election after securing key swing states.

Several hours after the US networks called the presidential election for Barack Obama, Mitt Romney has just delivered his concession speech in Boston. In a short and gracious address, he told the crowd that he had made the traditional phone call to "congratulate" Obama on his victory. Romney added:

This is a time of great challenges for America and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation.

I so wish that I had been able to fulfill our hopes to lead the country in a different direction but the nation chose another leader.

With Obama already topping 300 Electoral College votes (he required 270 to win), and Florida still to declare, his margin of victory is looking as large as the final swing state polls suggested. After he secured re-election by taking Ohio, the US President tweeted the above photo, with the message "four more years".

However, with the Republicans retaining control of the House of Representatives, he will soon be forced to confront the threat of renewed political gridlock.

The photo tweeted by Barack Obama after he secured re-election.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty Images.
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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.