Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn practice their election lines

LONDON — As the U.K. gears up for a general election, health care has taken center stage.

Though the vote is being pitched by all sides as a chance to unblock Brexit paralysis, it is already clear that the leaders of both main parties plan to campaign on much more than just the U.K.s exit from the European Union.

At the weekly Prime Ministers Questions session in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched a focused attack on Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the National Health Service.

“The prime ministers planned sellout deal with [U.S. President] Donald Trump means yet more NHS money being siphoned off into private profit,” he said.It was the first direct exchange between Johnson and Corbyn since MPs voted to back an election on Tuesday night.

Both leaders took the opportunity to practice their election messaging.

The parties domestic policy priorities cannot disguise the fact that Brexit remains the key dividing line in British politics.

“The U.S. has called for full market access to our NHS — which would mean prices for some of our most important medicines increasing up to sevenfold,” Corbyn said. “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.”

Johnson emphasized his Conservative Partys reputation for economic competence, and accused Corbyn of peddling “economic catastrophe” and “political disaster.” The Labour leader “would ruin this economy and ruin our ability to fund the NHS,” he said.

Brexit received just a handful of direct mentions from Johnson, who said Corbyn is “refusing to respect the verdict of the people in the referendum on the EU.”

Opinion polls suggest Johnson is on track to secure the parliamentary majority he craves in order to “get Brexit done,” as the Conservatives slogan goes, and also to deliver on his domestic priorities, which include promises to spend more on health, education and the police.


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For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

However, with more voters switching parties than during any period since World War II, Labour hopes a strong campaign could propel the party to a surprise victory.

Brexit shadow

The parties domestic policy priorities cannot disguise the fact that Brexit remains the key dividing line in British politics.

The prime ministers official spokesman told journalists later Wednesday that Brexit would be the “absolute priority” of a new Johnson government. “If we win a majority, the prime minister has been very clear that the first priority of the Conservative government after the election would be to pass the deal that he brought back from Brussels, and get it through the House of Commons as soon as possible,” he said.

Anyone standing to be a Tory MP “will be signed up to getting that deal through as soon as possible,” the spokesman said. All sitting Tory MPs voted in favor of the deal earlier this month.

The spokesman would not confirm whether Tory candidates had to commit to a no-deal Brexit as a backup option should the deal fail to clear the House of Commons in time, but said Johnson is “very clear he will not extend” Brexit past JanuarRead More – Source

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