• Thursday, July 18, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Johnson tries to fire up flagging Tory campaign

The former prime minister warned that Keir Starmer would try to “usher in the most left-wing Labour government” since World War II

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is applauded as he arrives to speak during a Conservative general election campaign event in London, Britain, July 2, 2024. (REUTERS/Hollie Adams)

By: Shajil Kumar

FORMER prime minister Boris Johnson tried to rally the Conservative party faithful as UK politicians on Wednesday spent a final day campaigning ahead of the general election.

The Brexit stalwart, ousted by his own Conservative lawmakers in 2022 after a string of scandals, made a surprise appearance at a party rally in London, urging supporters not to see the result as a “foregone conclusion”.

“I know that it is not,” he said late Tuesday, adding that opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer would try to “usher in the most left-wing Labour government” since World War II.

His last-minute intervention came after Survation pollsters indicated that Labour was on track to defeat Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Tories on Thursday in a landslide bigger than its 1997 poll victory under Tony Blair.

Labour has enjoyed a consistent 20-point lead in the polls over the past two years with many voters dissatisfied at the Conservatives’ handling of a range of issues including the cost of living, public services, immigration and the economy.

Johnson, who won the Tories an 80-seat majority at the last election in 2019, allowing him to take Britain out of the European Union, has been a notable absentee in the campaign.

Sunak – his former finance minister – was one of several who quit in protest at one scandal too many, forcing Johnson to resign, and there is no love lost between the pair.

Landslide

The last day of the campaign sees Starmer crisscross the UK with visits to England, Scotland and Wales while Sunak will end his campaign in the traditionally Conservative supporting heartlands of southeast England.

But even as the Tories prepared to fight for every last vote, one of Sunak’s most loyal ministers predicted Labour was on the cusp of a historic victory.

“If you look at the polls, it is pretty clear that Labour at this stage are heading for an extraordinary landslide on a scale that has probably never, ever been seen in this country before,” Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride told GB News.

Former interior minister Suella Braverman, meanwhile, urged the Conservatives to “read the writing on the wall” and “prepare for the reality and frustration of opposition”.

She urged the party to conduct a “searingly honest post-match analysis”, adding that it would “decide whether our party continues to exist at all”. (AFP)

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