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2009 set to be tough, says British PM

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged in a New Year's message that 2009 will be a difficult year as the UK grapples with an economic crisis.

world Updated: Jan 01, 2009 11:16 IST

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged in a New Year's message that 2009 will be a difficult year as the UK grapples with an economic crisis - seemingly downplaying the prospect he'll call a national election in the coming months.

Brown sidestepped the election issue on Thursday, despite pressure from the opposition to hold a ballot and give voters a chance to choose between competing economic plans. Brown said the new year will likely prove difficult as nations cope with the impact of the downturn.

"This coming year won't be easy," Brown said, in his message.

"When the history books come to be written -- 2008 will largely be remembered for the scale of the great economic and financial crisis. A year in which an old era of unbridled free-market dogma was finally ushered out."

But Brown said there are grounds for optimism, not least that US President-elect Barack Obama would help seal a new global pact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions at a summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Nations are due to meet in December to discuss replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

He said that typical British stoicism would also help the UK cope with the recession. "The British genius has always been to embrace the world in which we live, not the world we want to live in," Brown said.