Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Johnson pushes Brexit message as election nears

Published:Wednesday | December 11, 2019 | 12:34 AM
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson signals to the media during an election campaign visit to the JCB manufacturing facility in Uttoxeter, England on Tuesday.
Britain's Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. (AP)


With one day until Britain’s election, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s final push to drive home his key message about Brexit was overshadowed yesterday by criticism of his ham-fisted response to the image of a sick child sleeping on a hospital floor and allegations that he exploited a terrorist knife attack for political gain.

Dave Merritt, whose son was killed in last month’s London Bridge attack, said that the way the tragedy had been exploited for political ends was “crass and insensitive”.

Merritt’s 25-year-old son Jack was one of two people killed when a former convict attacked people at a prisoner-rehabilitation event that Merritt was helping to run on November 29. Attacker Usman Khan had served eight years in prison for terrorism offences, and the attack sparked a political spat about security, the early release of prisoners, and funding for the prison and justice systems.

Dave Merritt told Sky News that “instead of seeing a tragedy, Boris Johnson saw an opportunity”.

“And it was just such an ill-considered intervention and almost like a knee-jerk reaction,” he said. “I think he saw an opportunity to score some points in the election. They immediately said, ‘Oh, this is Labour’s fault – they allowed this to happen. They had this early release policy,’ and so on.”

He said that the family had not been contacted by Johnson or his office since the attack, although Johnson’s office said that “the PM has expressed his deepest condolences to Mr Merritt for his tragic loss – an experience no family should have to go through”.

Johnson, meanwhile, tried to focus voters on the prospect of an uncertain result and a divided Parliament, which would endanger his plan to lead Britain out of the European Union on January 31.

All 650 seats in the House of Commons seats are up for grabs in the election, which is being held more than two years early in a bid to break the political impasse over Brexit.