THE fact that Boris Johnson this week made his second visit to Yorkshire in under a month tells us he is on the hunt for the votes that could decide the next general election.
Even though he has only been Prime Minister for a few weeks, his desperation has forced him to seek an election as he flails around trying to get himself out of the chaos of his own creation.
Johnson showed his contempt for the elected representatives of the people as he tried to subvert democracy and railroad his no-deal Brexit through Parliament. Yet, no one voted for us to crash out of the EU with devastating impact that would have on jobs and the economy.
Hopefully, it looks like politicians from all sides, including some of Johnson’s close friends and former allies, are on course to block his disastrous plan to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 without a deal.
Johnson tried to pitch his doomed no-deal plan as some kind of “Parliament versus the People” battle. However it turned out to be more a case of “PM versus his own Party”.
His determination to suspend Parliament revealed him as an enemy of democracy and debate.
Johnson purged the Parliamentary Tory Party of long-serving MPs such as Cabinet Ministers Ken Clarke, David Gauke and ex-Chancellor Philip Hammond, as well as his friend and Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames.
He kicked them out of the party for standing up for what they believed in by opposing his reckless no-deal Brexit.
To top it all, the PM even lost the support and trust of his younger brother, Jo Johnson, who announced he was quitting as a Conservative MP and Minister on Thursday as he put the national interest above backing his brother.
Johnson is a Prime Minister who promised to take back control, but has now lost control.
He has shown he cannot even command the support of his friends, MPs and his own family – let alone the public – on the biggest issue of of the day. No one voted for his no-deal Brexit and the evidence of how damaging it would be keeps coming.
The latest warning from the Bank of England was the worst-case scenario was that our economy might collapse with a 5.5 per cent fall in GDP. That’s not as bad as the Bank’s earlier prediction of an eight per cent contraction, but that will still mean major job losses and could stifle growth for years.
The Bank’s Governor Mark Carney also repeated the warnings that it is likely that food prices will rise and that there will be significant delays at our ports.
But Johnson ignores anything that does not fit his script which draws more on insults than the language of grown-ups to abuse those who hold differing views. The PM should be seeking compromise to find a way through this crisis, not resorting to abuse all the time.
His visit on Thursday to Wakefield was an effort by Johnson to launch his general election campaign with a promise to eventually increase police numbers by 20,000.
But let’s not forget these are not “extra” or “new” police. The pledge is merely to start replacing the 20,000 officers cut under his predecessors’ brutal austerity cuts – all of which Johnson voted for.
Without a majority in the Commons, Johnson does not just want an election, he desperately needs one to have any hope of governing and avoiding being a Prime Minister who is in office but not in power.
That’s the cynical reason behind both the timing and content of Chancellor Sajid Javid’s spending review this week. After almost a decade of Tory austerity, the Chancellor delivered a list of unfunded promises.
There were warm words about more money for schools and hospitals after years of chronic under-funding. But it’s hard to believe anything coming from this discredited Government.
We were told by Ministers to look out for the spending review for the promised funds for flood protection for Leeds. Yet the Chancellor could not find a penny in his multi-billion pound package to prevent a repeat of the 2015 floods that were such a nightmare for my constituents in Burley and Kirkstall.
Like everyone else who wants to get rid of this disingenuous Prime Minister and his sinking Government, of course I want a general election.
But we must not allow the timing of that election to be dictated by a Tory leader who is desperate to save his own skin and ram through a no-deal Brexit while Parliament is suspended during an election campaign.
Johnson has already shown how he thinks nothing of abusing power and gambling with our nation’s prosperity to further his own political ambitions. Even his own side do not trust him.
Our first priority must be to ensure we have blocked his attempt to take us out of the EU with a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
Only when that is guaranteed can we we move towards an election to get rid of Johnson and secure a Labour government to reverse austerity and deliver the investment we need for Yorkshire and across the country.
Rachel Reeves is the Labour MP for Leeds West. She is also chair of Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.