GORDON Brown has claimed the world is in danger of sleepwalking into a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis because it is “leaderless” and the international co-ordination shown back then would be impossible now.

He also said Labour should have been tougher on the City during the boom years before the crisis and that punishments for “wrongdoing” by bankers have not been increased sufficiently.

Brown was prime minister at the start of the 2008 crisis and it played a part in his defeat at the General Election two years later.

Asked about the risks of a repeat of the economic collapse of a decade ago, Brown told the Guardian: “We are in danger of sleepwalking into a future crisis. There is going to have to be a severe awakening to the escalation of risks, but we are in a leaderless world.

“The co-operation that was seen in 2008 would not be possible in a post-2018 crisis both in terms of central banks and governments working together. We would have a blame-sharing exercise rather than solving the problem.

“In the next crisis a breakdown of trust in the financial sector would be mirrored by breakdown in trust between governments. There wouldn’t be the same willingness to cooperate but rather a tendency to blame each other for what’s gone wrong.

“Countries have retreated into nationalist silos and that has brought us protectionism and populism. Countries are at war with each other on trade, climate change and nuclear proliferation.”

Brown said the trade war US president Donald Trump has launched against China would be a major obstacle to any international co-operation in a future crisis. He said: “Trump’s protectionism is the biggest barrier to building international co-operation.”

On whether Labour should have been tougher on the City in the build-up to the 2008 crisis, Brown said: “Yes, we did not know what was going on in some of the institutions, some of it illegal, and which was being covered up.”

He added: “The penalties for wrongdoing have not been increased sufficiently. The fear that bankers will be imprisoned for bad behaviour is not there. There has not been a strong enough message sent out that government won’t rescue institutions that haven’t put their houses in order.”

Downing Street said Theresa May disagreed with Brown’s view. A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister told a Westminster briefing: “Since 2008 we have built one of the most robust regulatory systems in the world designed specifically to ensure financial stability and protect taxpayers.

“We have, obviously, reformed regulation to put in place one of the toughest systems in the world and we have made it easier to deal with any issues that emerge on the banking front.

We have reformed regulation of the City and put in place an incredibly robust system, one of the most robust in the world, at the same time making sure it’s globally competitive.

“Bank shareholders are now first in line to pay for the losses from any bank failures and we have taken significant steps to safeguard our economy.”