Brown urges America to take the lead on global issues
GORDON Brown today issued a call to America to take a lead in the world's battle against recession and climate change.
In a speech to both houses of Congress, the Prime Minister urged the US political elite to "seize the moment" by joining Britain and the rest of the world in international cooperation to tackle the economic crisis and "build tomorrow today".
He delivered a tough warning against protectionism, warning that erecting trade barriers would "protect no one", while the revival of free trade could end the recession and lead to a doubling in the size of the world economy over the coming two decades.
And he said America's inventiveness and "faith in the future" should be turned to the problem of halting global warming, telling Congress members: "The nation that had the vision to put a man on the moon are also the nation with the vision to protect and preserve our planet Earth."
Never in living memory have countries in Europe and across the world been more ready to work together with America, he said. And now more than ever, the problems faced by the US were global in nature and could only be dealt with by coordinated international action.
Mr Brown believes that securing active US support is vital to his hopes of reaching agreement on a "global new deal" involving reform of international financial supervision, fiscal stimulus and bank restructuring at the G20 meeting of leading economies in London on April 2.
In an upbeat message about the prospects of economic recovery, Mr Brown said, watched by his wife Sarah: "I believe that ours is a time for renewal, for a plan for tackling recession and building for the future. Every continent playing their part in a global new deal, a plan for prosperity that can benefit us all."
A day after becoming the first European leader to hold face-to-face talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Mr Brown hailed his inauguration in January as a day which "gave the world renewed hope".
And the unspoken message of his address was that the replacement of George Bush with Mr Obama in the White House had created the circumstances for the US to tackle the world's most pressing problems with the eager support of nations around the globe.
Aware that many of his audience are pressing Mr Obama to focus on defending American jobs and companies against foreign imports during economic hard times, Mr Brown called on them to reassert their faith in global free trade.
"Should we succumb to a race to the bottom and a protectionism that history tells us in the end protects no-one?" he asked. "No. We should have the confidence that we can seize the opportunities ahead and make the future work for us."
Mr Brown was the fifth UK Prime Minister to be granted the honour of an address to both houses of Congress and he used the occasion to announce the award of an honorary knighthood to veteran Senator Edward Kennedy, for his services to the US-UK relationship and the Northern Ireland peace process.
Evoking the British and American troops who have fought side by side from the Second World War to Afghanistan, Mr Brown hailed the special relationship as "unbreakable".
And he said that, just as it showed its value in times of war, it must now be applied to the "new priorities for our new times" – "a global economy in crisis and a planet imperilled".
In a plea to the US to take an internationalist approach to the current crisis, Mr Brown said: "America knows from its history that its reach goes far beyond its geography. For a century you have carried upon your shoulders the greatest of responsibilities: to work with and for the rest of the world.
"And let me tell you that now more than ever the rest of the world wants to work with you.
"And if these times have shown us anything, it is that the major challenges we all face are global.
"No matter where it starts, an economic crisis does not stop at the water's edge. It ripples across the world. Climate change does not honour passport control. Terrorism has no respect for borders. And modern communications instantly span every continent.
"The new frontier is that there is no frontier, the new shared truth is that global problems need global solutions.
"And let me say to you that you now have the most pro-American European leadership in living memory. A leadership that wants to co-operate more closely together, in order to co-operate more closely with you.
"There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe.
"So once again I say we should seize the moment – because never before have I seen a world more willing to come together. Never before has that been more needed. And never before have the benefits of co-operation been so far-reaching."
Throughout his two-day visit to the US, Mr Brown has resisted calls to apologise for mistakes he may have made which have contributed to the economic crisis.
And in today's speech he left no doubt of his conviction that the downturn was not the result of flawed UK Government policy, but of global problems in the banking sector which have affected all countries in the world.
However, he made no mention – as he often does when speaking in the UK – of the primary role of the US sub-prime mortgage market in sparking the downturn.
"An economic hurricane has swept the world, creating a crisis of credit and confidence," said Mr Brown.
"History has brought us now to a point where change is essential. We are summoned not just to manage our times but to transform them.
"Our task is to rebuild prosperity and security in a wholly different economic world, where competition is no longer local but global and banks are no longer just national but international.
"And we need to understand what went wrong in this crisis, that the very financial instruments that were designed to diversify risk across the banking system instead spread contagion across the globe.
"And today's financial institutions are so interwoven that a bad bank anywhere is a threat to good banks everywhere."
Describing the special relationship between the US and UK as "a partnership of purpose", Mr Brown promised Congress Britain's "continued support" to ensure there was no safe haven for terrorists.
And he said: "Let it be said of our friendship – formed and forged over two tumultuous centuries, a friendship tested in war and strengthened in peace – that it has not just endured but is renewed in each generation to better serve our shared values and fulfil the hopes and dreams of the day.
"Not an alliance of convenience but a partnership of purpose.
"Alliances can wither or be destroyed, but partnerships of purpose are indestructible. Friendships can be shaken but our friendship is unshakeable. Treaties can be broken but our partnership is unbreakable.
"And I know there is no power on Earth that can drive us apart."
Mr Brown evoked the memory of Depression-era President Franklin Roosevelt, who devised the original New Deal to lift the US out of the economic doldrums in the 1930s, as well as the American "visionaries" who created a new framework for global free trade following the Second World War.
"No one should forget that it was American visionaries who over half a century ago, coming out of the deepest of depressions and the worst of wars, produced the boldest of plans for global economic co-operation because they recognised prosperity was indivisible and concluded that to be sustained it had to be shared," he said.
He called on the American people to show the same optimism and faith in the future as they had under Roosevelt or Reagan to restore economic prosperity in the Obama era.
"This is the faith in the future that has always been the story and promise of America," he said.
"At this defining moment in history, let us renew our special relationship for our generation and our times. Let us restore prosperity and protect this planet and, with faith in the future, let us together build tomorrow today."
He added: "Working together there is no challenge to which we are not equal, no obstacle that we cannot overcome, no aspiration so high that it cannot be achieved."
Mr Brown's address was interrupted 16 times by standing ovations, and there was almost two minutes of applause as he concluded and left the chamber of the House of Representatives, shaking hands and signing copies of his speech.
But it was notable that Democrat Congressmen were more ready to cheer his comments on the need for action on banking reform, climate change and help for poorer nations.
Many Republicans were slow to rise to their feet during passages relating to the economy, and some seem reluctant to applaud his proposals for global co-operation on tackling the recession.
Wife Sarah, dressed in a blue-and-green plaid dress and pearls, looked down from a public gallery as her husband spoke at a podium in front of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who initially extended the invitation for him to speak last autumn – and Vice President Joe Biden.
As Mr Brown arrived at the end of his 35-minute address, Congressman Patrick Kennedy – the son of Senator Kennedy – came forward to acknowledge the honour to his father.
In pictures: Gordon Brown addresses US Congress
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