Page last updated at 19:18 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 20:18 UK

Britain will be stronger, says PM

Gordon Brown speaks ahead of the Birmingham cabinet meeting

Gordon Brown has been rallying ministers in Birmingham by insisting Britain can emerge from the economic crisis "stronger and fairer".

Mr Brown also pledged to "confront" the current challenges as he had done personal difficulties in his own past.

Ahead of the first cabinet meeting held outside London or Chequers since 1921, he outlined plans for up to a million "green" jobs by 2028.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband was among ministers to publicly back him.

"I am absolutely convinced that Gordon can lead us to victory. He has enormous values, drive and vision and I think we are going to prove people wrong," said Mr Miliband.

Ministers undertook a range of visits and meetings ahead of the two-hour cabinet meeting, which included discussion of the economy, the situation in Georgia and lessons learned from the Beijing Olympics.


Earlier Mr Brown struck an upbeat tone with representatives of business, charities and the public sector in Birmingham.

He told them: "We can do well indeed, but we have got to work out together how we can make our way in what is a new world of new change that is hitting all of us."

My own response to the great challenges in my own life has been to confront them
Gordon Brown

Ministers are also thought to have discussed the foreword Mr Brown has written for the document to be circulated to delegates at the Labour Party conference later this month.

In it he makes clear his intention to fight critics of his leadership, saying "my own response to the great challenges in my own life has been to confront them, resolute in the belief that there would always be something that could be done to overcome them".

"And there always has been."

'Cautious optimism'

He acknowledges the UK faces new challenges due to globalisation but says that, with a spirit of "cautious and practical optimism", Britain can emerge stronger from its current economic difficulties.

"I am confident we can come through this difficult economic time and meet these challenges a stronger, more secure and fairer country than ever before," Mr Brown said.

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling visit the Jaguar plant
Mr Brown and Mr Darling visited the Jaguar plant ahead of the meeting

Labour's task was to ensure that all people, not just the wealthy, could benefit from economic opportunities and that people were protected against the "risks that accompany radical change".

But he added: "There are no easy or quick answers. It requires leadership, squaring up to hard truths, being open with the British people about the choices we face, and making tough decisions on priorities for public spending."

Tuesday's cabinet meeting is the first not to be held in London or at Chequers since 1921 when David Lloyd George gathered ministers in Inverness to discuss Ireland's renunciation of the British monarchy at a time when he was holidaying in the Highlands.

'Fighting itself'

Shadow chancellor George Osborne told the BBC: "The cabinet taking a day trip out of London is not going to solve Britain's economic problems.

"What will solve Britain's economic problems is clear and united leadership and we are not getting that from a government that is fighting itself."

But speaking after the meeting, Health Secretary Alan Johnson said he had got a lot out of meeting businesses, charities and others adding: "It's amazing that this has not been done since Lloyd George was prime minister."

He also praised Mr Brown as a man "who has good experience, who has intelligence and an absolute remorseless focus".

The Cabinet Office said the total costs of the exercise were not yet known but Minister Ed Miliband told the BBC earlier it was important that the government did not "spend all of its time in London".

Mr Brown and other cabinet members highlighted a number of initiatives while visiting a number of venues around Birmingham.

Business Secretary John Hutton stressed plans for creating up to a million manufacturing jobs in low-carbon technology while Schools Secretary Ed Balls highlighted a scheme to help skills and job training for 50,000 low-income families.

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