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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
TUC ends conference early
Tony Blair at TUC conference
Tony Blair at the TUC conference, where he gave his first reaction to the atrocities in the US
The TUC conference has come to an early close after delegates were left stunned by the terror attacks in the United States.

TUC President Bill Morris told delegates that it would be inappropriate to continue the debate after the horrific events in New York and Washington DC.

After a minute's silence to remember the victims of the attacks, the conference was adjourned at 9:40 BST.

Mr Morris said that "we have been deeply shocked by the horrendous events of the last 18 hours".

The TUC has offered its sympathy to the US people and to the country's trade unionists, many of whom were believed to have lost their lives in the tragedy.

Mr Morris offered his "unequivocal support" to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and said the attacks were a "fundamental assault on democracy".

Debate postponed

The TUC meeting, which had been due to run until Thursday, had been expected to pass a motion critical of government policy on privatisation.

"It would be inappropriate to criticise the government at this time, there will be another time and another place to raise these issues," Mr Morris told BBC News Online.

Mr Blair had been due to deliver a keynote speech on Tuesday, billed as a showdown with union leaders over private involvement in public services.

But after news that attacks had destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, Mr Blair pulled out and returned to Downing Street, calling a meeting of the government's emergency "Cobra" committee.

Membership of the committee includes Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Home Secretary David Blunkett and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon plus top security advisors.

Delegates later heard that a further passenger aircraft had been flown into the Pentagon in Washington and another had crashed near Pittsburgh.

Pro-Europe message

Copies of the prime minister's speech were distributed to delegates.

It revealed he was due to send a strong pro-euro signal.

One of the key things affecting the UK's long-term strength, he was to say, was based on continuing to play its part in Europe and being part of the single currency if the economic conditions were met.

"This government believes Britain's proper place is at the centre of Europe, as a leading partner in European development," he would have told delegates.

TUC delegates
Delegates were left stunned

"There is nothing more damaging or destructive to the true national interest than the anti-European isolationism of today's Conservative Party."

The TUC was planning to discuss both Europe the role of private firms in running public services, following on from Mr Blair's anticipated comments on the issue.

But with delegates in a sombre mood the debate has been cancelled and the remaining business has been referred to the TUC General Council.

See also:

11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
US attacks stun TUC
12 Sep 01 | UK Politics
TUC showdown postponed
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair's statement in full
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair arrives for union showdown
10 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Unions give minister frosty reception
10 Sep 01 | Business
Grassroots fears at TUC
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Tories suspend leadership contest
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