Gordon Brown: 'I'm optimistic about the long-term prospects'
Gordon Brown has said a "can-do attitude" will help the British economy get through the current downturn and prepare for future recovery.
In his final press conference of 2008, the PM said the UK faced many problems over which it had no control.
But he tried to strike an upbeat note, pledging investment in key industries and saying the UK could be "a beacon of hope and opportunity" for the world.
He confirmed there had been "no promise of support" for car maker Jaguar.
Amid reports that the car firm is seeking financial help, Mr Brown said the government wanted to do "everything it could" for the car industry and was talking to all the largest producers about the challenges they face as sales fall.
But he insisted that the "first responsibility" for Jaguar's position lay with its owners, Indian car giant Tata.
With our fighting spirit and our can-do attitude, I am confident that we can meet all the challenges ahead
Addressing economic issues, Mr Brown said the government would make a series of announcements early in 2009 to support the economy through what he said were "uncertain and difficult times".
He promised more support for small business, focus on investment and employment in environmental and digital industries and a decision on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow.
"Our job is to provide real help to families and businesses now," he said. "That is the task ahead."
'Making a difference'
The prime minister said he had made "no secret" of the worries facing people at risk of losing their jobs and homes.
But he said the action the government had taken to boost the economy in recent months, including a controversial VAT cut, was already "making a difference".
He admitted that it was proving a "challenge" to get banks to restore lending to normal levels.
But asked about reports that a new scheme to allow firms to borrow directly from the government, which would see the state match bank loans with public money, was imminent Mr Brown said loans were already being guaranteed and more would be done in the future.
He added: "Britain can and must be a beacon of hope and opportunity for the future. With our fighting spirit and our can-do attitude, I am confident that we can meet all the challenges ahead."
Mr Brown said he had given "no thought" to an election in 2009.
He attacked the Conservatives for having "no idea" of how to deal with the problems facing the economy.
And he blamed international factors for the slump in Britain, insisting the country had been "the victim of a global downturn".
He said it was "unfortunate" that the UK had been "unable to avoid being affected" by events elsewhere.
"We face problems, many of which we have no control over," he said.
The PM also hit back at commentators who had written him off earlier this year amid low poll ratings and internal strife in the Labour Party.
"In my view what 2008 has taught us is that the public has less interest in the minutiae, the trivia of everyday events, of the personalities and the conflicts, in Westminster," he said.
"What they really want are governments that can actually get on with the job and do what they intend to do, and that's give real help to families and businesses."
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.