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  1. ITV Report

Former prime minister Gordon Brown calls for global action to end tax haven scandals

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has called for an end to the scandal of tax havens as he launches a global petition urging immediate action.

In an open letter to the chair of the G20 group of international leaders, alongside the petition, Mr Brown says it is time to blacklist them as "one of today's greatest global injustices".

Speaking to ITV News' Tom Bradby, Mr Brown said he will present the letter himself and say "there's never been a better to take action" in light of the Paradise and Panama papers.

"It's the government's that are to blame, it's the authorities that have got to take action, the individuals are using a system where there are too many loopholes," he added.

"In 2009 at the G20 during the financial crisis the major issue was a blacklist of tax havens that were non-compliant, where they wouldn't actually enforce the international law to exchange information about people who are hoarding money in these shelters."

"Since then there's not been enough action," he added.

"What you need to do now is to not just name and shame but to threaten sanctions against them, to exclude them from the international community and its benefits."

Mr Brown added that he would also like to see arrest warrants issued in cases which amounted to actual evasion and not avoidance.

He insisted the international community has to come together to tackle the issue.

"Britain can't do it on its own, it can lead it but it can't do it on its own," he said.

  • On Brexit: Confidence is eroding from Britain

In the wide-ranging interview, Mr Brown also discussed Brexit and said confidence in Britain needs to be rebuilt following the EU referendum vote.

"You need a hopeful vision of a country that can meet the challenges of taming globalisation and do so in a way that is fair and inclusive."

"People are fearful for the future, they don't think we've got the right direction," he added.

"Whatever your view on Brexit is people think that Britain needs a greater sense of direction and purpose and we need to restore that confidence."

  • Chancellor cannot allow Universal Credit to go ahead

Ahead of the Autumn Budget, the former chancellor called on Philip Hammond to stop Universal Credit "going ahead in its current form".

The programme - with its current six-week waiting time for payments - is aimed at replacing six different benefits with a single payment, making the system simpler to understand and administer, but rolling it out now would "create carnage around Christmas", a time when those on the breadline may feel the pinch even more, Mr Brown said.

He continued that provision must be made for the NHS in the Budget and that it needs re-financing or it will become "under-funded by £20 billion by 2022".

The extra money needed for the health service and the £3 billion of cuts which Universal Credit is intended to save, could come from clamping down on tax havens, Mr Brown said.

Returning to the subject of his petition, Mr Brown said that these cuts "could all be avoided" if the "billions of pounds of British money which are being hoarded in tax havens" were to be made available and taxed, "creating huge revenues and creating tax justice".

Gordon Brown speaks in the House of Commons as Prime Minister in 2010. Credit: PA
  • On what he sees as his failures during his time as Prime Minister

Speaking ahead of the launch of his memoir, Mr Brown said writing My Life, Our Times made him "think again about many of the issues" he faced while prime minister.

One of the biggest issues of Mr Brown's premiership from 2007 to 2010, was the financial crisis of 2008.

The 66-year-old said his "greatest regret" was being unable to "persuade people to take the next step" and follow his plans to end the recession which included "running a deficit for a period of time" in order to "get the economy to grow".

"But debt is like incest to some people," Mr Brown said, "it's something they can't accept".

This "failure of persuasion", he continued, led to the next 10 years being "effectively a lost decade".

Mr Brown said not enough action has been taken since the issue topped the agenda at the G20 summit in 2009. Credit: PA

Mr Brown continued that he believed the discontent with the austerity following the financial crisis was one of the major reasons behind the vote to leave the EU in June 2016.

Another lament of the former Labour MP was the Iraq War which lasted from 2003 to 2011, and which he believes "we got wrong".

While compiling his memoirs, Mr Brown said he "found evidence that Chilcot - it was a great inquiry that he did but he was unable to look at the American evidence - and I found evidence that the Pentagon knew far more about the absence of these weapons than they were prepared to tell the British, and I think that was significant."

Despite what he identifies as his shortcomings as prime minister, Mr Brown believes he and his government helped to create a "fairer" society.