LONDON Schools Secretary Ed Balls has warned that the world is facing its worst recession in more than a century, surpassing even the Great Depression of the 1930s.
In the gloomiest prediction yet made by a government minister, Balls said the pain of the economic downturn could be still be felt 15 years from now.
"These are seismic events that are going to change the political landscape," Balls told members of the Labour Party at a weekend conference.
"This is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s," he said. "The economy is going to define our politics in this region and in Britain in the next five years, the next 10 years and even the next 15 years."
Extracts of the speech by Balls, who is widely regarded as Brown's closest cabinet ally, were released by his office on Monday night.
Government officials said the remarks were in line with previous statements made "time and time again" by Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling.
"The unprecedented global nature of this crisis and its impact on the global financial sector is affecting every single economy in the world," a spokesman for Ed Balls said.
Britain fell into recession at the end of last year, with the economy shrinking by 1.5 percent in the last three months of 2008, the biggest decline since 1980.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland. Editing by Angus MacSwan)