Boris Johnson Says Jeremy Corbyn Would Be a Threat to the U.K.’s Security

  • Foreign Secretary criticised for calling Corbyn ‘old mugwump’
  • Johnson: U.K. could join military strikes against Assad regime

Jeremy Corbyn would be a threat to the U.K.’s security, Boris Johnson said as he put defense at the center of the election campaign, declaring Britain could join military action against Syria’s Assad regime.

In his first intervention in Theresa May’s re-election campaign, the foreign secretary said he feared voters might not understand the danger posed by a Labour government led by Corbyn.

Voters must resist saying to themselves that Corbyn “may be a mutton-headed old mugwump, but he is probably harmless,” Johnson wrote in the Sun newspaper. “He has campaigned against NATO for most of his life, and has even said he would like to scrap our armed forces.”

Labour hit back, saying Johnson had demeaned his office with attention-seeking “playground” name-calling.

Conservatives are seeking to cast the June 8 election as a straight choice between her “strong, stable leadership” and a “coalition of chaos” led by the “weak and failing” Corbyn. May called the vote to boost her parliamentary majority and win a mandate for her Brexit vision ahead of talks with the European Union.

But Tory strategists fear voters could fail to turn out in sufficient numbers to support May because they think Corbyn’s Labour has no chance of winning. Labour is trailing more than 20 points behind the Tories in recent polls.

‘Calamitous’

In a round of media appearances on Thursday, Johnson sought to highlight the security risks of a Corbyn government.

The Labour leader’s long record as an anti-war campaigner means “the consequences would be calamitous” if he ever won power, Johnson wrote in the Sun. “The biggest risk with Jeremy Corbyn is that people just don’t get what a threat he really is.”

Johnson said the global political dangers include a resurgent Russia, the crisis in Syria and North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. He said May would be ready to commit Britain to join any future U.S.-led military action in response to the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“If the Americans choose to act again and they ask us to help, as I say, I think it would be very difficult to say no,” Johnson told BBC Radio. “I know this is also the view of the prime minister.” He also signaled that it wouldn’t be essential to get parliamentary approval before launching any strikes.

Before becoming Labour leader, Corbyn was a leading figure in the Stop the War Coalition, which was set up in Britain after the Sept. 11 terror attacks to campaign against what it called unjust military interventions. He opposes the “first strike” use of nuclear weapons and has criticized the U.K.’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

Labour has said it is still committed to keeping the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent and will restate this promise in its election manifesto.

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