Ex-UK PM Gordon Brown calls for global government to tackle coronavirus pandemic

By on 27/03/2020
Gordon Brown was instrumental in coordinating the global effort to lessen the impact of the 2008 financial crash. (Photo by Mark Dolby via flickr).

Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has urged world leaders to create a temporary form of global government to deal with the coronavirus crisis.  

Brown said the proposed global taskforce should oversee and support the development of a vaccine and the production and distribution of medical equipment, and help to deal with the economic fallout of the crisis. To do the latter, it should coordinate the efforts of central banks; take steps to prevent the flight of capital from emerging market economies; and agree a joint approach to the use of government spending to boost growth.

Brown, who was at the centre of international efforts to lessen the impact of the 2008 financial crash, told The Guardian the taskforce should comprise heads of state, health experts and the heads of international organisations. I would need the executive powers to coordinate the response, he argued.

“This is not something that can be dealt with in one country,” he told the British newspaper. “There has to be a coordinated global response.”

On Thursday, G20 leaders agreed during a virtual summit to do “whatever it takes” to minimise the social and economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic. A statement issued after the meeting said G20 members had undertaken a $5 trillion (€4.5 trillion) stimulus through targeted fiscal policy and insurance schemes, and members would look to increase funding to multilateral bodies as required. Central bank governors were urged to draw up an action plan with finance ministers.

During the financial crisis, Brown persuaded other global leaders of the need to bail out the banks and then hosted a meeting of the G20 in London, which came up with a US$1.1 trillion (€992bn) rescue package. As the late Jeremy Heywood – then UK Cabinet secretary – recalled in 2011, Brown “played a very, very important role. It’s widely acknowledged that the G20 summit was a really, really important moment in the global economy. Prior to that, there had been genuine uncertainty over whether the international community could summon the kind of vision and energy and creativity to put a halt to the collapse in confidence, collapse in global trade and so on.”

The world faces a similar collapse in confidence today. And Brown argues that a go-it-alone approach cannot address the current crisis. “We need some sort of working executive,” he said. Recalling efforts to tackle the 2008 financial crisis, he said: “If I were doing it again, I would make the G20 a broader organisation because in the current circumstances you need to listen to the countries that are most affected, the countries that are making a difference and countries where there is the potential for a massive number of people to be affected – such as those in Africa.”

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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