PM warns Britain risks sleepwalking into a coalition led by Corbyn
Boris Johnson warns that Britain risks sleepwalking into a coalition led by Jeremy Corbyn – ‘the most extreme Left-wing candidate produced by the Labour party in a century’
- PM claims Tory victory would usher in ‘golden decade of prosperity and growth’
- Boris Johnson says he is fighting for every vote and is taking nothing for granted
- He has dismissed the polls suggesting that he is on course for a majority
Britain faces its starkest choice in decades at next week’s election, Boris Johnson says today.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister warns that Britain risks sleepwalking into a coalition government led by ‘the most extreme Left-wing candidate produced by the Labour Party in a century’.
But he promises that a Tory victory would instead usher in a ‘golden decade of prosperity and growth’.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister warns that Britain risks sleepwalking into a coalition government led by ‘the most extreme Left-wing candidate produced by the Labour Party in a century’
Mr Johnson rejects Remainer claims that Brexit has divided the country, saying the referendum has ‘illuminated problems that we can now solve’. He claims ‘the Sun will come out’ once Britain has finally left the EU, with a £150billion ‘wave of investment’ at hand
The Prime Minister dismisses polls suggesting he is on course for a majority, saying nothing is certain after his party’s late collapse in 2017.
A Panelbase poll last night suggested the Tory lead had extended to nine points – up one point in a week. It put them on 43, Labour on 34 and the Liberal Democrats on 13.
An Ipsos MORI poll for the London Evening Standard put the Tories on 44 per cent, 12 points ahead of Labour on 32 per cent.
Mr Johnson says: ‘We’ve gotta make sure that we push it right the way to the end, because we saw what happened in 2017. There are only two mathematical possibilities.
The warning came as the two leaders prepared for the last head-to-head debate of the campaign – a moment seen as the last chance for Jeremy Corbyn to change the course of the election
‘Either we get a working majority and get Brexit done and unleash the potential of the country, or we have a coalition in which Jeremy Corbyn, the most extreme Left-wing candidate produced by the Labour Party in a century, will be propped up by Nicola Sturgeon.
‘That was the lesson of 2017 and we cannot take anything for granted, you know, we are fighting for every vote.
‘I really urge people to think of the choice that faces us on Thursday because it is very, very stark indeed.’
The warning came as the two leaders prepared for the last head-to-head debate of the campaign – a moment seen as the last chance for Jeremy Corbyn to change the course of the election.
In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Johnson:
- Gives a ‘cast-iron guarantee’ to fix the social care crisis by the end of the next parliament and praises the Mail’s campaign on the scandal;
- Vows to recreate the ‘incredible surge of excitement’ of the 2012 Olympics by backing a World Cup bid;
- Pledges to bring back the ‘ancient liberty’ of selling fresh produce by traditional imperial measurements;
- Hits back at the BBC’s Andrew Neil by saying questions over his trustworthiness ‘make my blood boil’;
- Says his new philosophy of ‘boosterism’ will heal Britain’s divisions by bringing opportunity to left-behind areas.
Mr Johnson was locked in another row with Channel 4 after the broadcaster wrongly accused him of making a racist comment
In the interview, Mr Johnson rejects Remainer claims that Brexit has divided the country, saying the referendum has ‘illuminated problems that we can now solve’.
He claims ‘the Sun will come out’ once Britain has finally left the EU, with a £150billion ‘wave of investment’ at hand.
‘I think (there) will be a golden decade of prosperity and growth, we can get Brexit done and unleash the potential of this country, we can move forward,’ he says.
‘We can do things in a way that we haven’t been able to do before – we will shrug off the incubus of Brexit that’s been on the back of the British body politic.
‘We will dispel the fog of doubt and trepidation that has enveloped us for the last three-and-a-half years. The sun will come out – it will – and we will be able to, we will be able to do things that we haven’t done before.
‘We will be able to bring our nation together.’
Mr Johnson was yesterday fighting media battles on two fronts after aides confirmed he would not subject himself to an interview by Mr Neil.
- In a Mail interview, Boris Johnson warned that Britain could sleepwalk into letting in a government led by ‘the most extreme Left-wing candidate’ produced by Labour in a century.
- Channel 4 apologised after falsely accusing Mr Johnson of making a racist comment in a video which went viral on social media.
- Jeremy Corbyn was accused of spreading ‘wild conspiracy theories’ after claiming a leaked Treasury document showed there would be customs checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain after Brexit.
- The Labour leader admitted he is like Marmite because, although he is favoured by some, others find he is not to their taste.
- Sir John Major backed former Tory MPs standing as independents against the party he once led, at a rally calling for a second referendum.
- The Tories launched a website to help voters get to the polling station on Thursday.
The veteran broadcaster hit out angrily, saying he had planned a half-hour interview focused almost entirely on whether Mr Johnson could be trusted.
Aides accused the BBC of ‘losing the plot’ over the issue and predicted the row ‘will not cost us a single vote’.
Mr Johnson was locked in another row with Channel 4 after the broadcaster wrongly accused him of making a racist comment.
The broadcaster tweeted a clip of the Prime Minister with subtitles claiming he had called for control over immigration for ‘people of colour’.
However, Mr Johnson actually said ‘people of talent’ and Channel 4 News was forced to delete the footage and issue a humiliating apology.
The move came a week after the station incurred No10’s ire by replacing Mr Johnson with a melting ice sculpture in a debate on climate change.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith posted a picture online yesterday of a decomposing rat sent to his campaign office.
His Chingford seat in north-east London, which he has held for 22 years, is a key Labour election target.
‘It makes my blood boil!’: Boris Johnson reveals his fury at being preached at by Andrew Neil, his plan to bring back pounds and ounces… and what he really thinks of those questions about trust
Boris Johnson growls when asked why people keep questioning his trustworthiness.
‘It makes my blood boil,’ he says, giving his battle bus table a clammy thump for emphasis as he voices his unfeigned irritation at mention of the issue that has dogged him throughout the campaign.
He’s addressing the subject hours after the BBC’s rottweiler interviewer Andrew Neil had made an unprecedented TV appeal to the PM in a three-minute diatribe in which he mercilessly claimed many of Johnson’s own supporters deemed him ‘untrustworthy’.
Asked directly about Neil’s withering suggestion that he cannot be trusted on anything, the PM is much happier sliding our conversation onto his own favourite subject, getting Brexit done.
For Johnson, trust is a political currency, not a question of a personal moral code. ‘The issue is that trust in politics has been corroded by the failure the refusal of politicians of all parties to get Brexit done,’ he says.
Johnson is giving the Mail an exclusive interview at the back of his campaign bus which sports a livery in huge letters GET BREXIT DONE.
He makes the point that he has done 118 interviews during the campaign, as well as two TV debates with Jeremy Corbyn and two hour-long phone-ins – two more than the Labour leader. Why should he have to fit in No 119 with Neil?
Boris Johnson is interviewed by the Mail’s political editor Jason Groves as the election campaign enters the home stretch
Regardless, the criticism still grates.
At a press conference at the Kent County Showground yesterday, he mocked Neil, saying he also skipped a debate with his eccentric challenger Lord Buckethead who is standing against him in Uxbridge.
‘It’s not possible to fit everything in,’ he says with faux innocence.
Spending the day on the campaign trail with Boris Johnson is a whirlwind experience.
Proceedings begin at a Jewish bakery in north London. You can understand why Johnson prefers such company to that of Andrew Neil. Certainly, questions were a good deal gentler here.
‘Can I have a jam doughnut, please,’ asks one man as the PM hands round a selection of pastries he has shakily iced with that ubiquitous slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’.
As Johnson is mobbed by well-wishers at the Grodzinski bakery his protection officers have to move in to extricate him from the throng.
The bakery is in Golders Green, home to the biggest Jewish population in the UK, where Jeremy Corbyn’s appalling handling of anti-Semitism in the Labour party has left people deeply worried about going about their daily lives if he becomes PM.
‘You’ve got to save us from that lunatic, Boris,’ shouts one man.
On fertile ground here, Johnson lets rip at the Remainers in Parliament who blocked Brexit.
‘It was infuriating that I couldn’t deliver Brexit on October 31. But that was because Parliament passed a law, which was a constitutional innovation and abomination… forcing me to break my promise.
‘And so, when people talk about whether I can be trusted, it makes my blood boil because it was they that forced the Government to break its promise.
‘They passed a law to stop it happening. And then they had the cheek to try to blame the Government. I think it’s absurd.’
After a month on the road, the PM’s patter never deviates. He tells the heckler: ‘Yes, let’s get Brexit done and unite the country.’
So what does getting Brexit done mean and what difference will it make? What will February 1 feel like if he’s able to fulfil his pledge to get the UK out of the EU on the latest Brexit deadline on the previous day?
‘We will have a golden decade of prosperity and growth. We can get Brexit done and unleash the potential of this country. We can move forward.
‘We can do things in a way that we haven’t been able to do before we will shrug off the incubus of Brexit that’s been on the back of the British body politic.
‘We will dispel the fog of doubt and trepidation that has enveloped us for the last three-and-a-half years. The sun will come out…’
The linguistic hyperbole provokes laughter, but he ploughs on. ‘It will – and we will be able to do things that we haven’t done before.
‘We will be able to bring our nation together. It’s not just the advantages of Brexit, which are considerable.
‘It’s also the wave of the investment that will come into this country when we get it done.’
Taking back control of immigration is plainly going to be a focus of Tory efforts in the closing days of the campaign – not least because Labour has endorsed a policy that would mean free movement of people would continue in all but name.
Brexit, Johnson says, will change the atmosphere in the country in ‘lots of ways’.
‘We will be legally out of the EU. We will begin to introduce the Australian-style points-based immigration system that will allow us to take back control of our immigration policy.
‘We will begin preparing for legislation such as on free ports, turbo-charging our coastal communities that have been left behind.’
Johnson will also try to rekindle the excitement of the 2012 London Olympics with a bid to host the 2030 football World Cup, coupled with a £550million investment in grassroots sport.
‘I remember the incredible surge of excitement that filled up our nation, as we came together at the Olympic Games, and it was a golden moment, and we can do that again,’ he says.
Such a grandiose vision for Britain’s future gives the lie to those cynics who have suggested that Boris Johnson might end up as a historical footnote for holding the office of prime minister for fewer days than any of his predecessors – in particular George Canning, who clocked up only 118 days before his death in 1827.
There is so much more for Boris to do – and Brexit will be just the catalyst.
He vows, for example, to repeal EU-inspired laws banning British shopkeepers from selling loose produce in imperial measures. Pounds and ounces will be rescued.
‘We will bring back that ancient liberty. I see no reason why people should be prosecuted.’
Suddenly, an aide gives the PM a hard stare of mini-panic as he’s ventured into making a policy announcement on the hoof.
Thus upbraided, Johnson pauses briefly to say he ought to check his facts, but after a little reassurance, carries on.
‘I think the reality is a lot of people are now educated in the metric system, we have to recognise that,’ he says.
‘But people… I understand what a pound of apples is. I also understand what a kilo of apples is. There will be an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements.’
This is a gloriously typical example of Boris at work. Having his cake and eating it, too – in this case, a ten-inch round cake.
In Downing Street in July having just become PM, he told the nation he had a ‘plan’ to fix the social care crisis.
Yet there is little sign of it in the manifesto. Tackled on this palpable omission, Johnson stresses a pledge to put in an extra £1billion a year, and a promise to launch cross-party talks on a solution within 100 days if he is re-elected.
So, can he give a ‘cast-iron guarantee’ that a long-term solution would be put in place during the next parliament?
‘Yes,’ he says. There will be a ‘fully costed plan’ that means ‘nobody has to sell their home to pay for care’. He goes on: ‘The Daily Mail has done a great job of highlighting an injustice that needs to be tackled. We will do it.’
Returning to his favourite subject like a child to their teddy bear, the PM argues that the Brexit referendum vote didn’t divide the country. Instead, it shone a spotlight on divisions that had been festering for years.
‘It illuminated problems that we can now solve,’ he says. ‘We are the government to solve it.
‘We have the most ambitious agenda to unite and level up across the country. It means better infrastructure, better education and technology roll-out that will bring people together.
‘My mantra is that talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is unfairly distributed. That’s the challenge for us Conservatives. That’s what brings us into politics.’
Asked about his philosophy of ‘Boosterism’ – putting rocket boosters under the economy – he admits to a ‘One Nation Tory’ approach to the role of the State.
Those expecting a Johnson government to herald a return to Thatcherism are in for a surprise. ‘I genuinely believe that the State has a role in creating the bedrock, the flower bed for business, for enterprise innovation that can only happen with education, infrastructure and technology,’ he says. ‘That’s the formula.’
It sounds like something that could have been said by Michael Heseltine – another blond-maned Tory titan.
‘Yeah, well, there’s something in that,’ Johnson says. ‘There’s a sense in which, you know, I do think Hezza was not wrong about some things.’
But he quickly adds that the anti-Brexit Heseltine is ‘very wrong about’ urging people to vote Lib Dem next week.
Johnson tells me that he starts most days with a contemplative walk round the Downing Street garden with Dilyn, the Jack Russell cross he adopted with girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
Does he clean up after Dilyn himself? ‘Yes, it’s an honour. Dilyn is a very gifted dog. He’s very talented and can almost walk on his hind legs.’
The dog is clearly learning to be a people-pleaser like his master.
So, inevitably, it’s back to explaining his mission to sell the huge advantages of his ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal, ‘which we can get into Parliament before you cook your Christmas turkey’.
Clearly, he thinks Labour’s Brexit approach is itself a turkey.
Johnson is astonished to learn that Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Sir Keir Starmer, had earlier confirmed he would campaign in a second referendum against any Brexit deal negotiated by a Labour government. Corbyn has pledged to be ‘neutral’.
‘The whole thing is farcical,’ retorts Johnson. ‘The guy who’s presumably going to be negotiating this deal is not even going to back it. It is beyond parody.’
Parody or not, the PM and his team are haunted by memories of the 2017 election when the Tories under Theresa May collapsed in the final furlong.
Johnson says: ‘We’ve gotta make sure that we push it right the way to the end, because we saw what happened in 2017.
‘Either we get a working majority and get Brexit done and unleash the potential of the country, or we have a coalition in which Jeremy Corbyn, the most extreme Left-wing candidate produced by the Labour Party in a century, would be propped up by Nicola Sturgeon.
‘I really urge people to think of the choice that faces us on Thursday because it is very, very stark indeed.’
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