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Election campaign kicks off against Brexit background

Nicky Morgan is the latest high profile female MP to stand down after dealing with ‘abuse’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to spar off with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to spar off with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

By Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are hitting the General Election campaign trail as they trade blows in the run-up to the pre-Christmas poll.

The Prime Minister blamed his failure to live up to his “do or die” promise to deliver Brexit on Halloween on the Labour leader, while Mr Corbyn hit out at the “corrupt” British system of doing business.

As the UK braced itself for a bitter winter election campaign ahead of the December 12 poll, Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan cited the “abuse” she had received as she became the latest high profile figure to stand down at the election.

After previously pledging that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than extend Brexit beyond October 31, Mr Johnson  –  who marks 100 days in office on Thursday – will use election visits to claim it was Mr Corbyn’s fault the UK’s withdrawal from the EU had been put back until January 31.

As the General Election campaign cranked into gear, the PM is due to say: “Today should have been the day that Brexit was delivered and we finally left the EU.

“But, despite the great new deal I agreed with the EU, Jeremy Corbyn refused to allow that to happen – insisting upon more dither, more delay and more uncertainty for families and business.”

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The timetable for December 12 general election (PA Graphics)

In his first major stump speech of the countdown to the pre-Christmas political clash, Mr Corbyn will hit out at the “tax dodgers, bad bosses, big polluters, and billionaire-owned media holding our country back”.

Mr Corbyn will use the speech in London to “call out” people like the media baron Rupert Murdoch, and the Duke of Westminster.

He will say that “the elite” are scared of the British people, which is why “they’ll throw everything” at Labour in the upcoming election.

We’re going after the tax dodgers. We’re going after the dodgy landlords. We’re going after the bad bosses. We’re going after the big polluters. Because we know whose side we’re on Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Corbyn will say: “This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country, take on the vested interests holding people back and ensure that no community is left behind.

“So, we’re going after the tax dodgers. We’re going after the dodgy landlords. We’re going after the bad bosses. We’re going after the big polluters. Because we know whose side we’re on.

“Whose side are you on? The dodgy landlords, like the Duke of Westminster, Britain’s youngest billionaire, who tried to evict whole blocks of families to make way for luxury apartments? Or the millions of tenants in Britain who struggle to pay their rent each month?

“Whose side are you on? The bad bosses like Mike Ashley, the billionaire who won’t pay his staff properly and is running Newcastle United into the ground?

“Whose side are you on? The big polluters like Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man who makes his money by polluting the environment? Or the children growing up in our cities with reduced lung capacity because of choking pollution?

“And whose side are you on? The billionaire media barons like Rupert Murdoch, whose empire pumps out propaganda to support a rigged system.”

The comments came as Ms Morgan became the latest high profile female Tory to quit frontline politics.

Announcing her decision not to run in the election, Ms Morgan cited the abuse she had received as an MP.

She said: “But the clear impact on my family and the other sacrifices involved in, and the abuse for, doing the job of a modern MP can only be justified if, ultimately, Parliament does what it is supposed to do – represent those we serve in all areas of policy, respect votes cast by the electorate and make decisions in the overall national interest.”

Speaking on ITV’s Peston programme, former Conservative chairwoman Baroness Warsi said she doubted the election would make Brexit any easier to pass.

“If Boris’s whole premiership is going to be about Brexit then I’m not convinced that this election is going to deliver him any more Members of Parliament that will vote for this deal, nor will he get this deal any quicker having had this General Election,” she said.

Meanwhile, Brexit Party sources told the PA news agency that reports the organisation, headed by Nigel Farage, would stand down candidates in Tory seats and concentrate on challenging some 20 Labour MPs in Leave areas were “wild speculation”.

PA

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