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Election 2005 PM Tony Blair and PM wannabe Gordon Brown popped in to The Carphone Warehouse today to present awards to key employees of the telecoms outfit.

The visit to Carphone's West London call centre followed the launch of Labour's business manifesto in which the PM outlined plans to create and maintain the "right environment for enterprise and wealth creation".

Speaking about the UK's role in the global economy, Blair said that China and India produce 125,000 computer science graduates every year - more than twice the whole of the EU's ouput.

"In the 1980s, less than a tenth of the UK's manufacturing imports came from developing countries. Today it is almost 30 per cent, and in 20 years time it will be around 50 per cent. Clearly, we as a nation face a major challenge.

"At the same time, technology and scientific advances are changing our world faster than ever before. Developments in IT, biotechnology, new fuels and nanotechnology are creating a new wave of innovation and opportunities for businesses large and small.

"British businesses can rise to these challenges - competing successfully in an ever more competitive global economy," said Blair.

But as The Carphone Warehouse attempted to use today's visit to plug the "entrepreneurial spirit nurtured throughout the company via attractive benefits packages, fun incentives and rewards", the event was somewhat overshadowed by a growing political row of the legality of the Iraq war. ®

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