Clegg calls for party unity over economy

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has called on David Cameron and Gordon Brown to put aside their party allegiances and adopt a cross-party approach to the economic crisis.

Mr Clegg wrote a letter to both his opposite numbers last night, just after it emerged that Washington had rejected a bailout bill for the US economy.

His call was echoed by David Cameron, who told the BBC’s Today programme this morning that he would work with the government to find a solution to the crisis.

Mr Clegg wrote: “With the Paulson package blocked in Congress we are now entering a very dangerous time.

“We must do everything to prevent the events in the US Congress leading to a downward spiral of market panic and widespread bank failure.

“This would pose the greatest challenge to Britain and the world in decades.

“That’s why I believe these exceptional times require a suspension of normal political hostilities and a rapid move towards a cross-party consensus on how we might prepare for the worst case scenario.

“Vince Cable [Lib Dem economics spokesman] and I are working on a number of ideas, from stemming repossessions in the housing market to re-regulating the banks in the City of London, which we would like to put forward for all party discussion.

“Surely if all parties were to put forward their own ideas we would be more likely to come up with the best solutions available?

“Millions of British families will be following the news of the turmoil in the financial markets with growing alarm.

“All politicians of all parties now owe it to them to put their interest above that of party political advantage.”

Mr Cameron is currently making an emergency statement to party members at the Conservative conference in Birmingham.