Brown tours British recession hotspots, travels by train

January 7th, 2009 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownLondon, Jan 7 (IANS) British premier Gordon Brown Wednesday began a three-day tour of British recession hotspots in a bid to boost morale that has been hit by growing joblessness.The tour began with a visit to the East Midlands - a manufacturing region known around the world for its auto manufacturing and design industry.

Brown was set to announce a scheme to provide 35,000 apprenticeships to young people in the East Midlands, which is a strong vote-bank for the ruling Labour Party.

The three-day tour of England and Wales is aimed at finding out first-hand how the recession is affecting workers and employers, but opposition politicians have alleged Brown has a political motive.

The Labour-supporting Guardian newspaper quoted an unnamed MP as describing the tour as a “Labour heartland warm-up” ahead of general elections due by the summer of 2010.

Commentators have noted that Brown will travel mainly by train and return to London only on Friday - unlike his predecessor Tony Blair who drew criticism for his flying trips to the regions which lasted no longer than a day.

The so-called ‘recession recce’ will take in the East Midlands, the North West, the Midlands, the South West and Wales.

Brown will visit a number of redevelopment projects and training schemes to show how the nation’s economy can be rebuilt.

Before chairing a special meeting of his cabinet in Lancashire, he will talk to 200 members of the public about the credit crunch and its effect on jobs.

“The prime minister wants to see for himself how Britain can build on the successes of the past 10 years so that as we come through the world downturn, we remain focused on building a better tomorrow,” said a Downing Street spokesman.

“He is determined to do everything he can to prevent job losses, and make sure that anyone made redundant is helped back to work as quickly as possible.”

Brown will then assess the findings from his tour at a jobs summit Monday involving leading employers from retail, manufacturing and other key industries.

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