Boris Johnson has claimed Jeremy Corbyn offers a “political disaster” and risks denying Britain a “glorious year” in 2020.
The Prime Minister said voters face a “stark choice” between Labour and the Conservatives on December 12, telling MPs it was the time for leadership rather than Mr Corbyn’s “politics of protest”.
Mr Johnson’s claims came during a stormy pre-election Prime Minister’s Questions in which Mr Corbyn hit out at the Government’s record on the NHS.
The Labour leader said the health service is in “more danger than at any other time in its glorious history” due to the PM’s attitude and desired trade deals.
Mr Corbyn, in his concluding remarks, said: “People have a chance to vote for real change after years of Conservative and Lib Dem cuts, privatisation and tax handouts for the richest, this Government that has put our NHS into crisis.
“This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to end privatisation in our NHS, give it the funding it needs and give it the doctors, the nurses, the GPs and all the other staff that it needs.”
Mr Corbyn maintained the NHS is “up for grabs” to US corporations in a “Trump-style trade deal”, adding: “Our health service is in more danger than at any other time in its glorious history because of his Government, his attitudes and the trade deals he wants to strike.”
Mr Johnson said of the choice facing voters: “It’s between economic catastrophe under the Labour Party, a £196 billion programme taking money away from companies and putting it on his re-nationalisation programme, putting up taxes on corporations, on people, on pensions, on businesses, at the highest level in the whole of Europe.”
The PM added Mr Corbyn also “offers a political disaster”, claiming the Labour leader would be “consigning next year, which should be a wonderful year for our country, to two more referendums”.
Mr Johnson concluded: “Why on earth should the people of this country spend the next year, which should be a glorious year, going through the toxic, tedious torpor of two more referendums thanks to the Labour Party? We want next year to be a great year for our country.”
The pair had opened with tributes to outgoing Speaker John Bercow before Mr Corbyn switched attention to fears of a “sell-out deal” with the US which he warned threatened the NHS.
Mr Corbyn began by asking: “Why did the Prime Minister say the health service wasn’t on the table in any post-Brexit trade deal?”
Mr Johnson replied: “The answer to that is very simple, it is because it is not on the table.”
The PM went on to accuse Mr Corbyn of being “phobic” of American companies before the Opposition leader pressed on NHS shortages and waiting times, before asking how Mr Johnson had the “brass neck” to defend the Government’s record.
He quoted a letter from a woman whose mother died in February “as a direct result of the GP shortage in the UK”, with MPs hearing her last years were “marred by long waits for treatments and interventions”.
Mr Johnson said the Government “would deal with” the woman’s concerns before claiming the number of doctors and nurses on wards have increased since 2010.
The PM went on to say: “It is time to differentiate between the politics of protest and the politics of leadership.
“It’s all very easy to be an Islingtonian protester and say that you side with Russia over what happened in Salisbury or say you have a £196 billion programme of re-nationalisation or continually to flip-flop one way or the other, now Leave, now Remain, refusing to respect the verdict of the people in the referendum on the EU.
“Leadership means standing up for the people of this country, standing up for our police, standing up for our NHS, making sure it gets the funding that it needs and standing up for our economy and wealth creators.
“Above all it means getting Brexit done and ending the dither and delay.
“The time for protest is over, it’s time for leadership – and that is what this Government provides.”
Mr Corbyn said the PM’s remarks were “a bit odd” given he withdrew legislation connected to his Brexit deal, adding Mr Johnson should have shown “some empathy” in his response to the NHS case raised.