Gordon Brown has revealed he would have had “no choice” but to resign as prime minister in October 2008 if his plan to rescue the banking system failed.
In an extract from his new book, My Life, Our Time, Brown recalls the tension in Downing Street as he and his team realised how close the financial system was to collapsing.
After deciding to commit billions of pounds to save banks, including RBS, the former prime minister write about how he did not know if it would work.
“I went to bed at midnight on Tuesday, 7 October, with my mobile phone next to me in case of any further disasters,” he said.
“I had decided to announce the plan at 7am the following day, and that we would phone other national leaders and finance ministers immediately beforehand and afterwards.
“When I got up the next morning I told Sarah that she would have to be ready to pack our things for a sudden move out of Downing Street.
He adds: “If what I was about to do failed, with markets collapsing further and confidence ebbing from Britain, I would have no choice but to resign. As I walked into the office, I didn’t know if I’d still be there at the end of the day.”
Brown also warns that cheating bankers must be “put in jail with their bonuses returned, assets confiscated and banned from future practice” to stop the same problems happening again.
In a previous extract of his book, Brown writes that he was not well suited for the “touchy-feely era” of politics that demands politicians be more open about their private lives.
And he says while Labour “won the battle” to escape a recession, it “lost the war” to “build something better”.
“I fell short in communicating my ideas. I failed to rally the nation around the necessary fiscal stimulus and my plans for radical change,” he writes.
“Banking should have been transformed, our international institutions refashioned, inequality radically reversed – and if we are to be properly equipped to face the next crisis this is still the agenda we must pursue.”