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Suffolk: Gordon Brown's bleak break at Shadingfield

PUBLISHED: 09:18 14 December 2010

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah on holiday in Suffolk

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah on holiday in Suffolk

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FORMER prime minister Gordon Brown spent his much-publicised summer holiday in Suffolk in 2008 "obsessing" over the banking crisis, he reveals in his new book.

The Browns’ two-week break at Shadingfield Hall, a country mansion near Beccles, was portrayed as a traditional family holiday, away from the stresses and strains of Government.

But Mr Brown, writing in his new book Beyond the Crash: Overcoming The First Crisis of Globalisation, reveals that he had “a full diary of meetings” every day and used the break from Parliament to “read widely” on subjects such as the Great Depression.

The Prime Minister’s visit to the Suffolk coast was seen as a major coup for the area and a fillip to tourism.

Mr Brown, his wife Sarah and their sons John and Fraser were photographed on an official visit to Africa Alive! in Kessingland and also watched a film at a cinema in Lowestoft.

They were based at Shadingfield Hall, a 22-bedroom house then owned by the celebrity photographer Dave Hogan, also spent time exploring the local countryside and beaches.

Political commentators and colleagues have described the holiday as forced upon Mr Brown by his wife, with a constant stream of aides and colleagues making the trip to Suffolk.

And the former Prime Minister admits in his book that Shadingfield Hall became something of a command centre as the Government plotted its reaction to the crisis.

“The collapse in credit and its consequences for Britain’s and the global economy was the question that obsessed me throughout our summer holiday in Suffolk,” he writes.

“It was always great to be out of London and spending private family time with Sarah and the boys, and as I usual I tried to read widely in a way that simply wasn’t possible when Parliament was sitting and each day was a full diary of meetings.

“It was then that I picked up and read Ben Bernanke’s essays on the Great Depression.”

The account supports the bleak picture painted of the break in books by former Business Secretary Peter Mandelson and political writer Andrew Rawnsley.

Beyond The Crash also details Mr Brown’s belief that the Government’s actions in drawing up a rescue plans for the banks averted a catastrophic economic depression in the UK.

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