Boris Johnson is launching the Conservative election campaign by comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Stalin over his “hatred” of wealth creators.
With parliament dissolved at midnight on Guy Fawkes’ Night, the prime minister is heading to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the Queen.
He will then return to Downing Street to fire the starting gun on the election, before travelling to the West Midlands where he will address Tory supporters at a rally.
But ahead of hitting the road, Mr Johnson has begun day one of the campaign by launching a bitter personal attack on the Labour leader and his policies on business.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the prime minister claimed Mr Corbyn demonises billionaires in a manner not seen since the former Soviet leader persecuted landowners in the 1930s.
“They pretend that their hatred is directed only at certain billionaires – and they point their fingers at individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks,” Mr Johnson wrote.
“In reality they would end up putting up taxes on everyone: on pensions, on businesses, on inheritance, on homes, on gardens.”
Mr Johnson also claimed Brexit will unlock “hundreds of billions” of investment into the UK, but Labour would deliver nothing but further delay which would “hold the country back”.
His “Stalin” attack is in response to Mr Corbyn declaring at a campaign launch last Thursday that a Labour government would go after a super-rich “elite” who exploit a “rigged system” to benefit themselves at the expense of the many.
The Labour leader named five billionaires he would target if he becomes prime minister: Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, hedge fund boss Crispin Odey, chemicals company chief Jim Ratcliffe, media owner Rupert Murdoch, and landowner the Duke of Westminster.
On Twitter, Mr Corbyn tweeted a picture of the Telegraph’s front page, along with the caption: “The nonsense the super-rich will come out with to avoid paying a bit more tax.”
A Labour source said: “We’re not bothered by Boris Johnson’s fantasy insults in the billionaire-owned press.
“Instead are focused on our plan for real change for the many not the few.”
Mr Corbyn is returning to the attack with a campaign speech outlining ambitious goals for a Labour government including abolishing in-work poverty and ending the need for food banks.
He will set out a list of ambitious goals for a Labour government, including:
- An end to in-work poverty
- An end to food bank use
- An end to 1.4 million older people not getting the care they need
- Over 100,000 genuinely affordable homes built per year
- An end to rough sleeping
- An end to tuition fees
- Reduced waiting times for A&E and cancer treatments
- Brexit sorted in six months
- Smaller class sizes
- A green industrial revolution to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and slash carbon emissions
“I want a Labour government to be judged by whether it changes people’s lives for the better after five years,” Mr Corbyn will say.
“Judge us on the real change we deliver, the concrete improvements to the lives of millions. We don’t have any time to waste.”
Claiming he will be a very different kind of prime minister, the Labour leader will say: “For me, real politics isn’t about shouting matches in parliament.
“For me, real politics, the politics I stand for, is about sharing power and wealth with people who don’t have a lot of money and don’t have friends in high places – to take control of their own lives.
“My job as leader, and my party’s job, is to champion those people, and bring about real change.
“So if you, the British people, elect a Labour government on 12 December, I will be proud to be your prime minister. Because I will be a very different kind of prime minister.
“Not the kind of prime minister who believes he was born to rule. Not the kind who thinks politics is a game.
“But the kind of prime minister who only seeks power in order to share power – because it isn’t about me, it’s about all of us.”
At his rally in the West Midlands, Mr Johnson will repeat his now-familiar slogan that only the Tories can “get Brexit done” and attack Mr Corbyn on Brexit and Scottish independence.
He is expected to say: “There is only one way to get Brexit done and I am afraid the answer is to ask the people to change this blockading parliament.
“I don’t want an election. No prime minister wants an early election, especially not in December.
“But as things stand we simply have no choice – because it is only by getting Brexit done in the next few weeks that we can focus on all the priorities of the British people.”
On the choice that voters will face in the election, Mr Johnson is expected to say: “It’s time to change the dismal pattern of the last three years and to get out of our rut.
“It’s time to end this debilitating delay. Let’s go with this Conservative government, get Brexit done, and unleash the potential of our great country – delivering on the public’s priorities of our NHS, crime and the cost of living.
“Meanwhile the alternative is clear – Jeremy Corbyn and his two favourite advisers, Dither and Delay, turning 2020 into the year of two miserable referendums, one on the EU, and another on Scotland.
“And remember that a vote for any other minor party is effectively a vote for Corbyn, and his catastrophic political and economic programme.”
Responding to Mr Corbyn’s speech, the Tory chairman James Cleverly said: “Unfortunately for Jeremy Corbyn he will be judged on his dismal record as Labour leader.
“Given his track record of broken promises, very few people will believe a word he says.
“He promised to end unlimited immigration from the EU, he promised to leave the single market and he promised to respect the result of the referendum.
“Now he is saying that he will try to negotiate a deal that does none of those things and he wants to hold two more referendums.”
The Brexit Election: For the fastest results service and in-depth analysis watch Sky News live from 9pm on Thursday 12 December, with a KayBurley@Breakfast election special on Friday 13 December