'Grave danger of financial collapse' says Clarke

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The world faces a "grave danger of financial collapse" and the UK is "not out of the woods" yet, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke warned today.

"I actually am one of those who believes, with a grave danger of financial collapse, we're not out of the woods in the western world yet. There is an extremely serious financial crisis," he said.

Mr Clarke said the UK has "rescued ourselves at the moment", but he added: "If we fail to deliver with the (CSR) programme we're going to set out, we'll be back there all too soon."

His comments were not contained in the draft text of his speech released by the Ministry of Justice.

But speaking at the Prison Governors Association annual conference in Buxton, Derbyshire, Mr Clarke joked about the reputation of the town's mineral water, telling his audience: "Whilst here I would suggest you taste the water to try the cure, because the events of the next 12 months are going to be quite dramatic."

He said he did not want to dwell on the comprehensive spending review, but added: "It is quite the most dramatic in living memory.

"There's no one alive who remembers a crisis of this kind.

"It is not the usual public spending squeeze."

Mr Clarke told the prison governors: "I would brace yourself for quite a lot of change, because these are difficult circumstances.

"Whatever I manage to get, it won't be what you like."