General election: Boris Johnson compares Corbyn to Stalin over ‘hatred’ of billionaires

‘The tragedy of the modern Labour Party is that they detest the profit motive so viscerally,’ Tory leader claims

Andy Gregory
Wednesday 06 November 2019 10:30
Jeremy Corbyn: 'People sometimes accuse me of trying to take to both sides at once in the Brexit debate ... They’re dead right'

Boris Johnson has compared Jeremy Corbyn to the communist dictator Joseph Stalin, accusing his political rival of demonising billionaires and harbouring a “hatred” of so-called wealth creators.

The prime minister accused the Labour leader of victimising the country’s richest with a “relish and vindictiveness” not seen since the Soviet leader persecuted landowners in the 1930s.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph as he launched his party’s general election campaign, Mr Johnson claimed: “The tragedy of the modern Labour Party is that they detest the profit motive so viscerally – and would raise taxes so wantonly – that they would destroy the very basis of this country’s prosperity.

“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.

"In reality they would end up putting up taxes on everyone: on pensions, on businesses, on inheritance, on homes, on gardens."

Launching Labour’s election campaign, Mr Corbyn promised “the biggest people-powered campaign in history” to deliver “a society that works for everybody and not just the billionaires”.

He later wrote on Twitter: “There are 150 billionaires in the UK while 14 million people live in poverty.

“In a fair society there would be no billionaires and no one would live in poverty.”

The notion that “every billionaire is a policy failure” is one that has been echoed by several MPs in recent days, with Lloyd Russell Moyle’s heated discussion with Newsnight​’s Emma Barnett on the subject dividing public opinion.

While the Labour Party is yet to publish its tax plans and manifesto, the focus is expected to be on preserving the NHS and increasing spending on public services after a decade of austerity.

Wealth inequality has long been at the centre of the party’s outlook under Mr Corbyn.

In the 2017 general election, Labour pledged to lower the threshold for those eligible to pay the 45p marginal rate of income tax from £150,000 to £80,000. The party vowed not to increase VAT rates or personal national insurance contributions.

The Tory PM said the Conservatives would “cheer, not sneer” entrepreneurs if they retain office after December’s snap general election, and claimed the opposition would “hold back business, hold back investment – and worst of all, they would hold back Brexit.”

In October, the Federation of Small Businesses warned the government that thousands of small businesses were struggling to stay afloat amid an “unprecedented” slump in confidence since the Brexit vote.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson penned an open letter to Mr Corbyn, asking him to clarify Labour’s Brexit stance for the sake of the nation.

Mr Corbyn replied: “Secure a credible deal in three months. Put it to the people for the final say, with the option to remain, in six months. That’s our Brexit policy.”

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