Andrew Porter and Toby Harnden
March 5, 2009

In becoming only the fifth Prime Minister to address a joint session of Congress, he lavished praise on America, hailing it as the “indispensable nation”.

[efoods]But he also laid down a challenge to the US not to retreat into protectionism and to help to protect the world’s poor, calling on America’s politicians to join him in forging a global agreement to solve the financial crisis.

Seeking to restore his battered reputation in Britain, Mr Brown, whose love of the US is well known, had travelled to Washington hoping to replicate the success enjoyed by his predecessor Tony Blair.

The trip was in danger of being overshadowed, however, by his refusal to apologise for the recession.

In the event, the Prime Minister shrugged off the controversy as he called on the US to help him reach a deal on global financial reform in time for the London G20 summit in April.

In a mostly well-received speech, in which he repeatedly called on America to renew the special relationship with Britain, he was given 19 standing ovations, the same as Mr Blair when he addressed the same assembly six years ago after the invasion of Iraq. But his appeals to the US to reject “the race to the bottom” of protectionism, while embracing the plight of the world’s poor, were greeted less enthusiastically.

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