Brown urges Congress to ‘show reason’

Gordon Brown has added his voice to calls from George Bush for Congress to approve a reshaped version of the White House’s $700 billion (£388 billion) financial bailout package.

In a move that sent shockwaves through world markets last night, Congressmen voted against the rescue plan.

On Tuesday, Mr Bush said it was the responsibility of the United States’ elected leaders to approve the package.

Mr Brown, who had already expressed his disappointment at the vote’s outcome, said in further comment that the bill’s failure was a “matter or regret”.

“But I’m confident reason will prevail,” he told Sky News. “Reason must prevail and I think reason will prevail.”

In a separate interview with the BBC, Mr Brown said the government would do “whatever it takes” to guarantee people’s savings.

A Downing St spokesperson told politics.co.uk that the Financial Services Authority was currently consulting on guaranteeing deposits of up to £50,000.

In a statement earlier on Tuesday, Mr Bush had warned of the “real prospect of economic hardship for millions of Americans” unless the bill was passed.

“Congress must act; the financial security of every American depends upon it,” he said.

The bill was turned back by 228 votes to 205 on Capitol Hill on Monday, with Democrat and Republican leaders left reeling from the number of dissenting Congressmen.

Republicans had voiced concerns over the plan’s socialist spine; while Democrats claimed it was unfair for the American taxpayer to bailout financial institutions and the ‘fat cats’ that controlled them.

“I recognise that this is a difficult vote for Congress. Many of them don’t like that our economy has reached this point, and I understand that,” Mr Bush said.

“But the situation is urgent and the consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act.

“If our nation continues on this course, the economic damage will be painful and lasting.”

Mr Bush warned that the $700 billion cost of the package paled in comparison to the $1 trillion dollar felt on markets yesterday, while the troubled assets the government planned to buy could increase in value before being sold in the future.

“Much if not all of the tax dollars will be paid back,” the president said.

Mr Bush said he would hold talks with Congressional leaders today, with the House of Representatives not sitting due to a Jewish holiday.

“Our economy is depending on decisive action from the government,” he said.

“The sooner we address the problem the sooner we can get back to growth and job creation.”

The president continued: “I can assure our citizens that this is not the end of the legislative process: the legislation is complicated and it can be contentious.

“It matters little what path a bill takes to become law, what matters is that we get a law.”

Mr Brown had earlier said he sent the White House a message calling for “decisive action”.

His statement coincides with an almost unprecedented day of political overtures from the three main parties.

David Cameron made an emergency statement to the Tory party conference saying he would work closely with the government to overcome the economic storm, beginning with support for a banking reform bill announced by Labour last week.

Nick Clegg has written to both party leaders calling for everyone to put their proposals on the table.

Mr Brown’s words were moderate compared to those of Peter Mandleson, New Labour architect and currently EU trade commissioner.

Speaking on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Mr Mandelson said: “I feel they’ve taken leave of their senses, and I hope that in Europe, we will not see politicians and parliamentarians replicating the sort of irresponsibility and political partisanship that we have seen in Washington.”