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22 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Gordon Brown on economic crises, the retreat from globalisation and the fight against Covid-19

By Samuel Horti

In a wide-ranging interview published on the New Statesman today, former prime minister Gordon Brown says that the coronavirus pandemic is “undoubtedly a crisis of globalisation” – but that the solution is more global cooperation, not less.

Speaking to New Statesman political editor Stephen Bush, Brown says the crisis will “force us to rethink what we mean by the management of the global economy”, as well as what constitutes the “right policies for a global society”. 

“It is the beginning of a period of quite intense rethinking, partly because we enter it having had a period of protectionism…. the past two or three years, we’ve moved to a more aggressive nationalism, which is America First. It’s the attempt to put populist nationalism on a global level – India First, China First and everything else – so you’ve got, if you like, a global coalition of anti-globalists,” he says. 

“Some of the assumptions of globalisation are being challenged, but it actually makes it more important that we put the case for global cooperation rather than simply accept that certain countries are resistant to it. If you’ve got a medical emergency, a pandemic, it is the most obvious example of where countries have to cooperate. You cannot solve this problem in one country; it has got to be solved in every country. Even the most isolationist nations must know that you cannot solve it simply in the US or Europe. If you can’t agree on health multilateralism, what kind of multilateralism can you agree on?”

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Brown also speaks about the dangers of “vaccine nationalism”, about the prospect of a universal basic income, and how coronavirus will change the UK’s social contract.

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