A general election will see the UK choose between “transformative socialist change” under Jeremy Corbyn and the “barbaric undermining” of essential public services under the Tories, Labour’s John McDonnell said.
The shadow chancellor hit out at Boris Johnson and his government of “far right extremists”.
While he predicted Labour would win an overall majority in the Commons if there is an election this year, he said the alternatives if Mr Corbyn does not become PM were “pretty bleak”.
He spoke out as he addressed Labour activists in Scotland, insisting that the party wanted a general election “as soon as possible”.
But he explained they had voted against the Prime Minister’s bids to call a snap election because they feared “tricks” from Mr Johnson in the run-up to Brexit.
The PM has pledged to take the UK out of the European Union by October 31, but Mr McDonnell insisted that if Parliament had given the Conservative leader the power to call an election, “he would then use that power to take us over the deadline and over the cliff off a no-deal Brexit”.
And he added: “There was no way we were going to fall for that.
“Once we get rid of the threat of a no-deal Brexit, bring that general election on.”
With speculation mounting that a ballot could be held in November or even December, Mr McDonnell told a rally in Glasgow that Labour had the “opportunity of a lifetime” to change the political direction of the UK.
He pledged “transformational socialist change” if Mr Corbyn is installed in Number 10, saying priorities for the party would be tackling in-work poverty and investment in public services, which he said had been “constructed as the backbone of any civilised society”.
— Michael Sharpe (@ThinkSharpe) September 13, 2019
Mr McDonnell said: “It is the choice we are faced with at the moment – if we allow them to continue on, it is between socialism or the barbaric undermining of some of the civilising influences and public services that we need.”
The shadow chancellor said: “We need to tell people our time is coming, and I think it is coming maybe quicker than anyone expected.
“We’re preparing for that election and we’re preparing for that campaign and we’re also preparing for government. I think we will be in government soon and we recognise the enormous responsibility we have got on our shoulders.
“The alternatives that we see are pretty bleak. I don’t know how else you can depict the current leadership of the Tory party and the cabinet other than far-right extremists, because that is what they are.
“And they will stop at nothing to deliver their agenda of a no-deal Brexit, a deal with Trump. That is their agenda. And inherent in that agenda is the continuation of austerity.”
He spoke out after what he branded a “scandalous” time for UK politics, with Mr Johnson having suspended Parliament.
However the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that that decision was unlawful, with Mr McDonnell saying: “How dare the Prime Minister, according the court, clandestinely prorogue Parliament and prevent us having the debate we need to have over Brexit?
“We need rid of this Prime Minister.”