Boris Johnson described the upcoming general election as the “most important in a generation” as he launched the Conservatives’ campaign.
Speaking at a rally in Birmingham, the prime minister claimed he had been forced to go to the country on 12 December because Westminster was “paralysed” over Brexit.
MPs, he said, had stopped functioning “like an anaconda which had swallowed a tapir”.
“For three-and-a-half years we have had non-stop political manoeuvring to stop Brexit and thwart the will of the people,” Mr Johnson told the audience.
He claimed that a Labour victory would mean “more uncertainty and more acrimony and division in our country when this country is aching to move on”.
The attempt to rally the Tory troops came after a difficult start to the campaign that saw:
- Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns quit the government after reports he had prior knowledge of a collapsed rape trial, despite saying he was unaware of the details.
- Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seize on “shameful” comments by senior Tories about the Grenfell Tower fire, for which they were forced to apologise.
- The Tories face questions about a party campaign video that critics claim had been “doctored”.
- Former Tory minister Ed Vaizey announce he would not be standing at the election, despite Mr Johnson handing him the Conservative whip back last week.
Mr Johnson visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday morning, followed by a speech outside Downing Street.
He repeated his promise to “get Brexit done” and said the alternative to a Tory victory next month was for the UK to “spend the whole of 2020 in a horror show of yet more dither and delay”.
Having compared Mr Corbyn with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in a newspaper column, Mr Johnson kept up his attack on the Labour leader at his Birmingham rally.
The PM said Britain was better off without the “Bolivarian revolutionary socialism” of Labour, adding that their “deranged” plans for renationalisation of industries would be “ruinous”.
On Brexit, Mr Johnson claimed his opposite number “wants nothing more than dither or delay”.
“He wants a referendum on Scotland because he’s told the SNP he’s happy to break up our union if they sustain him in power, and of course he wants another referendum on the EU. Unbelievable,” the PM told the crowd.
“He said tonight he wants to have another extension for another negotiation. But he’s not clear what he wants to achieve.
“And we don’t know what he wants to achieve in that negotiation
“We don’t know what question he would put to the electorate in this referendum
“We don’t even know what his own position is. Is he for leave or remain, in or out, forwards or back?
“I don’t know. I don’t think he knows himself.”
Mr Johnson defended the Brexit deal he struck with Brussels last month, comparing its critics to “candle-sellers at the dawn of the age of the electric light bulb”.
“This deal delivers everything that I campaigned for for Brexit,” he said.
Mr Corbyn told Sky News on Wednesday that his plan for Brexit was realistic and he was confident the EU would give him an extension to allow him to hold a referendum.
The Brexit Election: For the fastest results service and in-depth analysis watch Sky News live from 9pm on Thursday 12 December, with a [email protected] election special on Friday 13 December