British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday compared his main rival in the upcoming election to former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who garnered infamy for killing millions in labor camps.
Reuters reports Johnson’s remarks were aimed at Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of December’s vote.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson, the leader of the Conservative Party, vowed to get a Brexit deal done — his top priority when he took office — and railed against Corbyn’s attempts to derail a deal.
“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,” Johnson wrote, according to Reuters. “They would destroy the very basis of this country’s prosperity.”
Millions of people were executed under Stalin’s regime and many more died from abuse and disease in a vast network of prison camps known as gulags. Relatively wealthy farmers, known as kulaks, were among the groups targeted by the Soviets in the 1930s.
Johnson’s remarks come as he kicks off his election campaign after Parliament agreed to hold an early election on Dec. 12, attempting to end years of disagreement over Brexit.
Johnson said he was not fond of an early election, which he is attempting to frame as a referendum on Brexit.
“I don’t want an election. No prime minister wants an early election, especially not in December,” Johnson wrote. “But as things stand we simply have no choice – because it is only by getting Brexit done in the next few weeks that we can focus on all the priorities of the British people.”
Johnson is hoping the election will secure his party a large enough majority in Parliament to get a Brexit deal completed.
Corbyn said that he wanted to renegotiate a Brexit deal and let the voting public decide between leaving on his terms or not leaving at all. He has argued that Johnson’s Brexit agreement would hurt the economy and negatively impact workers’ rights.
“The politics I stand for is about sharing power and wealth with people who don’t have a lot of money and don’t have friends in high places,” Corbyn is set to say at his campaign launch Wednesday, according to Reuters.