PM: downturn over by Christmas

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Gordon Brown yesterday staked his political reputation on a swift recovery from Britain's longest-ever recession, with a pledge that the downturn would be over by Christmas.

Following the surprise revelation that the economy shrank by 0.4 per cent in the third quarter of this year, the Prime Minister used his weekly podcast to deliver an upbeat forecast.

Mr Brown urged caution, but he said "the battle to stop this global downturn becoming a second great depression is being won". He added: "This isn't happening by accident. It is being won only by countries rejecting the protectionism which caused such damage in the 1930s in favour of co-ordinated action and intervention.

"My pledge to you is to make reform of the financial sector a reality and to see Britain's economy return to growth by the turn of the year."