As it happened: PM's Congress address

By Emma Griffiths (all times GMT)

1735 Well Mr Brown has left the building so that's it from our live Congress coverage. We'll be back next week when he's expected to be back in the more familiar - and less apparently supportive - setting of the House of Commons for prime minister's questions. His speech seems to have gone down pretty well with the US politicians - at the latest reckoning he got 17 standing ovations during his address - not including the one he got when he walked in. It seems he may still have been pipped by his predecessor Tony Blair, who is said to have got between 17 and 19 - depending which reports you believe for his address in 2003. The then UK PM remarked at the time that he was not used to such a reaction at home.

1721 On the subject of shadow banking systems and offshore tax havens, the BBC's Carole Walker says Gordon Brown has not waded into Jersey and Guernsey telling them to change their banking systems and his opponents will be quick to try to pin him down on the details.

1721 Democrat congressman John Tanner tells the BBC he was particularly struck by Mr Brown's call for international standards in the financial markets and his reference to battling climate change. He says the protectionism argument can be hard for politicians to resist but says everyone knows from history overtly protectionist policies were a mistake.

1720 The BBC's Washington correspondent Jonathan Beale says the most important bit from a US point of view was the warning against protectionism - he says Mr Brown was careful about the way he delivered the message but had talked in "straight terms".

1656 An amusing slip of the tongue from Mr Campbell who referred to the "Blair Brown relationship" when he meant to say "Blair Bush" - former UK PM Tony Blair's relationship with his then chancellor Gordon Brown was the subject of numerous well documented ups and downs...

1655 In the BBC studio in London, Tony Blair's former communications chief Alastair Campbell said part of the message would have been aimed at a UK audience - but the speech could have been delivered to any audience, as it was "authentic" Gordon Brown - particularly the references to his Church upbringing.

e-mail sent in by reader
1649 BB, Toronto, Canada: "The British PM should not apologise for the economy. It wasn't Britain that engaged in credit default swaps or other derivatives." More of your comments.

1648 Mr Brown appears to be signing autographs as he is surrounded by US politicians on his way out of the chamber - not a practice he will be accustomed to from prime minister's questions in Westminster!

David Thompson
1647 From BBC political correspondent David Thompson: No leader would be unhappy with a standing ovation from the most powerful legislature in the world and by my count, Gordon Brown got about 18. To say his speech was well-received would be an understatement. When he talked, in a deviation from his published text, about the Rwandan boy David, tortured to death at the age of ten, whose last words were, "The United Nations will come for us", he seemed to make an emotional connection with the hard-bitten men and women of Congress as well as a political one. So, job done. Question is, will it be enough to provide Mr Brown with the bounce he needs to regain the initiative in the somewhat less polite world of politics back home in Britain?

applause icon
1644 Gordon Brown wraps up his speech with the words "Let us restore prosperity and protect this planet and, with faith in the future, let us together build tomorrow today". Congress is on its feet again for another standing ovation.

1643 egoboss tweets: "Listening to Gordon Brown address the US Congress - he's coming across very well indeed and it sounds like what he's saying is well received." Read egoboss' tweets.

1642 Mr Brown is winding up now - referring to US President Franklin Roosevelt who, "in the depths of the Depression.. did battle with fear itself".

1642 "When the strong help the weak, it makes us all stronger," Mr Brown adds, saying the first duty of wealthy countries is to help the "not so wealthy". He refers to lessons learned in his father's church, that "wherever there is hardship we cannot, we will not, pass by on the other side."

1641 The chamber is quiet as Mr Brown tells the story of a Rwandan child victim of torture who had believed the UN would arrive in time to save him. His voice appears to break slightly as he says the greatest gift countries like the US and UK could give would be to ensure every child in every country got to go to school. "Let us not forget the poorest," he says.

1639 Mr Brown goes on to say he hopes the world will reach an "historic agreement on climate change" in Copenhagen in December

1637 Mr Brown says trade should be the "engine of prosperity" and every continent should play its part in a "global new deal, a plan for prosperity for all". He mentions the upcoming G20 summit in London at which he hopes to see an agreement on rules and standards on banks' transparency, accountability and reward - presumably a reference to large bonuses - that will mean an "end to excesses" at all banks

David Thompson
1638 From BBC political correspondent David Thompson: Throughout this speech, Gordon Brown has been at pains to tell Congress that America is not alone and that there is a new depth of support for it across the world. By speaking for Europe, talking about "The most pro-American European leadership in living memory," he could be seen to be positioning himself as the pre-eminent politician on the continent, the "go-to" guy for the US administration when it wants to deal with the EU. That would undoubtedly boost his prestige both at home and abroad - although it might not make him too popular with messrs Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi, already smarting that the British Prime Minister beat them to the White House.

1636 Mr Brown says the world needs to work together to see off the economic downturn. He gets loud cheers as well as applause when he suggests they should work together to "outlaw shadow banking systems and outlaw offshore tax havens".

1635 The UK's prime minister, sporting a purple tie, says global problems need global solutions and tells Congress they currently have the most pro-American European leadership in history. He gets another standing ovation for the line: "There is no old Europe, there is no new Europe. There is only your friend Europe."

e-mail sent in by reader
1634 John McGrath, Rhode Island, US: "Gordon Brown should tell Congress to rethink the strategy on terrorism, working with the UK and the EU to develop a common or compatible approach." More of your comments.

1633 Mr Brown urges an end to the "dictatorship of oil" by developing new green technologies and says politicians cannot just plan for tomorrow today: "Our task must be to build tomorrow today".

1632 The PM says we must invent, educate and invest our way out of the downturn. To a now quiet chamber he says it is not "blind optimism" but "faith in the future".

comment from blogger
1631 Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian: "Is he making a bid for the presidential nomination, or something?" Read more on Deadline USA,

1630 Mr Brown builds on the protectionism warning by moving on to the need for global financial regulation, saying "a bad bank anywhere is a threat to good banks everywhere".

David Thompson
1629 From BBC political correspondent David Thompson: The call to reject protectionism, not to " succumb to a race to the bottom," is key to what Gordon Brown wants to get out of his visit to the US. Both he and President Obama believe that concerted action by governments, led by America, can shorten the length and depth of the recession. Problem is, not everyone in Congress believes that - some think a degree of protectionism would be no bad thing. Both prime minister and president will be hoping today's speech can go at least some way to changing their minds.

e-mail sent in by reader
1629 Paul Harris, Kent: "I would like Gordon Brown to urge Congress to spend more on public health in the US." More of your comments.

1628 Mr Brown has gone on to talk about his father - a Church of Scotland minister - and his teachings that wealth should not only benefit the wealthy.

1627 From the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Washington: In the space of a minute, the prime minister used the word "friendship" four times, and the word "partnership" three times, hammering home the point that the US-UK friendship/partnership/relationship is as he says "unbreakable".

e-mail sent in by reader
1616 Mark, Newport: "Gordon Brown should stress to Congress that any "global deal" should strive to prevent future tsunami effects on financial markets and systems." More of your comments.

applause icon
1626 Mr Brown makes a reference to markets being free "but not values free" - a theme he has mentioned several times in interviews in the UK. He is interrupted by a new burst of applause.

1625 The prime minister is switching his focus now to the global recession. He tells senators and congressmen that when banks fail, politicians must be "the people's last line of defence".

1624 The prime minister goes on to pledge cooperation over the Middle East peace process and Iran - who he warns must suspend its nuclear programme if it is to rejoin the international community.

1621 The friendship between the US and UK is not an "alliance of convenience" but a "partnership of purpose" he said. He adds: "No power on earth can ever drive us apart."

1621 Mr Brown is getting into his stride now - he remembers the attacks on the US of 11 September 2001 and says Britain will continue to support the US in ensuring there is no "hiding place" for terrorists, saying they "have not and will not ever destroy the American spirit" - which seems to go down well with his audience.

David Thompson
1620 From BBC political correspondent David Thompson: No one could accuse Gordon Brown of not knowing his audience. Four standing ovations in roughly as many minutes pay testament to that. By stressing the historical nature of the special relationship between Britain and America - the shared casualties of two world wars, the role of Senator Edward Kennedy in the Northern Irish peace process and, of course, the joint response to 9/11, Gordon Brown is emphasising the depth of the links between the US and the UK - and preparing the ground for his argument that the special relationship will be key to finding a way through the global economic crisis too.

1619 Mr Brown goes on to thank the US for sacrifices during the two world wars and wins more applause for praising the "bravery and valour of the Americans who gave 'the last full measure of devotion'". He then pays tribute to US and UK soldiers fighting "side by side" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

1617 From the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Washington: Only a few minutes into the speech and I've already counted at least five standing ovations for the prime minister.

1616 chrisathey tweets: "Gordon Brown is getting a warm reception from Congress, hoping his speech sets a good tone for economic recovery." Read chrisathey's tweets.

1616 In strictly non-partisan fashion, Mr Brown praises achievements of both the Kennedy and Reagan administrations - from the moon landing to the fall of the Berlin Wall. This is another crowd pleaser as many in the room get back to their feet.

1614 And, as expected, the UK PM announces that veteran senator Ted Kennedy will be awarded an honorary knighthood - Mr Brown singles out his work in the Northern Ireland peace process and on US healthcare in particular. The room is back on its feet as he thanks "Sir Edward Kennedy".

1613 He says in the election of President Obama the US had written the latest chapter in its history. He thanks the president for his friendship and for giving the world "renewed hope".

applause icon
1611 Mr Brown looks pleased at the response - it's a while since he's had such a rousing welcome back home - and begins his speech by praising the US as a "great nation" which has been "an inspiration to me and to the whole world". This wins another lengthy round of applause.

1610 Everyone is still on their feet and clapping as Ms Pelosi bangs the gavel and introduces the UK PM, to cheers from the US politicians.

Gordon Brown
1609 Mr Brown appears relaxed as he makes his way to the front of the chamber where US vice president Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are standing

1607 Mr Brown is walking in to warm applause, shaking hands with people on both sides.

1606 Back in Westminster, BBC political correspondent Carole Walker says Mr Brown is struggling to convince the British people he has the right approach to get them through the recession. She says he will hope to strengthen his argument by saying the US is following the same broad approach on issues like bank regulation.

1605 BBC correspondent Jonathan Beale says Democrats and Republicans do not necessarily see eye to eye on the best way to stimulate the economy and Mr Brown will probably avoid getting into too much detail about what exactly his preferred "global deal" would involve.

1604 Still no sign of Gordon Brown on the podium - US politicians are milling around in the chamber. Can't be long now.

1603 The room is filling up as they await Mr Brown's arrival. Tony Blair's former communications chief Alastair Campbell tells the BBC he expects Gordon Brown will be nervous - saying that addressing politicians from another legislature can be quite nerve wracking.

1558 US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on her feet as the great and the good on Capitol Hill gather to hear Mr Brown's speech. The BBC's Washington correspondent Jonathan Beale says Mr Brown has a challenge in following in the footsteps of his predecessor Tony Blair - who is still popular in the US. But he says he can expect a warm welcome as there is a "huge affection" for Britain too, although many US politicians will know little about Gordon Brown.

1552 tonycatt tweets: "I wonder what congress will make of Gordon Brown. The man who saved the world, but cannot engage the brakes on the rollercoaster economy." Read tonycatt's tweets.

e-mail sent in by reader
1548 NB, London, UK: "Gordon Brown should ask for a debate in both countries on how to regulate financial risks properly so that stability is encouraged." More of your comments.

1540 Mr Brown is due to start speaking at 1600 GMT - according to pre-released extracts from his speech he will tell Congress that current European leadership is the most pro-American in living history adding: "There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe."

David Thompson
1538 From BBC political correspondent David Thompson: This will be an interesting balancing act for Gordon Brown to pull off. On the one hand, he has to make a speech which wows Congress and gets a decent reception - one that is not too noticeably worse than Tony Blair's when he addressed both Houses in 2003. On the other, he will be painfully aware that this is a speech which needs to speak to a domestic audience back in Britain as well. To be classed as a triumph, Mr Brown needs his Washington audience to accord him a level of applause and acclaim which says to the viewers and listeners back home that he's a respected player on the biggest stage in the world.

1533 Hello and welcome to our live coverage of UK prime minister Gordon Brown's speech to both houses of the US Congress - he'll be the fifth UK prime minister to do so and is expected to address the issue of protectionism and urge the US to "seize the moment" and work with the rest of the world. He is also due to announce that veteran US senator Ted Kennedy is to be awarded an honorary knighthood.

Print Sponsor

Have Your Say on BBC Twitter
Send your texts to 61124

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific