Gordon Brown has accused Boris Johnson of leading an “intolerant, inward-looking, xenophobic, isolationist government” which was prepared to put the health of millions of Britons at risk by taking the country out of the European Union with no deal.
In a strongly-worded intervention made ahead of the Westminster shut down, the former prime minister said the UK government was not being honest with the public about the risks that Brexit posed to medical supplies entering the country.
“Nobody voted for this kind of no deal Brexit,” he said. “This Brexit is not the Brexit we were promised.”
Mr Brown used a speech at Gorbals Parish Church last night to insist that no deal could still be avoided.
Speaking to an audience of Labour party members and union activists, the former MP for Kirkcaldy said: “Never stop believing that we can win this. Never stop believing that we can replace this intolerant, inward-looking, xenophobic, isolationist government. We want a fair-minded, decent Britain.”
Mr Brown claimed that rather than taking back control, a no-deal would leave the UK losing control of its food, medical and manufacturing supplies.
He continued: “There are a million people in this country who rely on insulin – and most of the insulin we use comes in from mainland Europe. If that insulin is delayed then people’s lives are put at risk.
“Take the flu vaccine. People probably don’t know that we’ve had to reconfigure the flu vaccine to take into account a more deadly virus from Australia.
“We now know a million doses of the vaccine will not be ready by 31 October – but we cannot guarantee they will be here in the weeks after when they will be desperately needed.
“Any serious government minister would take this into account.
“If we had parliament meeting at the moment there would be questions about it, if we had the documents that parliament should have, that show the worries that civil servants undoubtedly have.”
Mr Brown also warned that a no-deal Brexit could play havoc with the UK’s food supplies.
He said: “Maybe people don’t know this – but it used to be that 75 per cent of our food was homegrown.
“It’s now just 60 per cent – 30 per cent of it comes in from mainland Europe, and the other 10 per cent comes in from other parts of the world, who usually have treaties with the European Union.
“That means lots of our fresh food comes in from Europe.
“What will happen is the price of food – which is already going up – will go up even further. Some say if the pound goes down food prices will rise even more.
“Who suffers most if food prices go up? Not Boris Johnson. Not his Cabinet or the Conservative party. Not Jacob Rees-Mogg, reclining on a seat in the House of Commons – but people who depend on foodbanks, people who depend on benefits, people who depend on a weekly wage that is simply inadequate to pay for food bills as they go up in price by 10 per cent or more over the next few weeks.
“Austerity is not over for the people of this country. Everybody knows that austerity is not over for the low-paid worker who cannot afford to make ends meet.
“Austerity is not over for the mother who cannot afford childcare when she’s got to go to work. Austerity is not over for the pensioner who has seen their standard of living fall over these last few years.
“We’ve got to bear in mind that the people who will suffer most when food prices go up, and food supplies are in short supply, are the poorest and most vulnerable.
“We cannot be at ease if millions of us are ill at ease. We cannot feel secure if millions of us feel insecure.”
Mr Brown continued: “Boris Johnson said he would favour the Single Market. Nigel Farage said he would favour a relationship like Norway or Switzerland.
“They all said it was going to be easy. They all said we would have a trade deal by now with a dozen or more countries.
“We know this was not the Brexit that was promised.”
Turning to the SNP, Mr Brown said only Labour would priortise Scotland’s place within the UK and Europe.
“The SNP have pointed to figures from the Fraser of Allander Institute that say because of our trade with Europe, 100,000 jobs will be at risk. But you know they’ve got to apply their logic to trade with the rest of the United Kingdom as well.
“If £14 billion of our trade with Europe is effected by Brexit, what about the £50bn of trade we have with the rest of the United Kingdom?
“If a 100,000 jobs are affected by our trade with Europe, how many more thousands of jobs are affected we have a breach in our trade with the rest of the UK?
“You can’t get out of Brexit and vote for the SNP without the consequences being that they will claim it’s a mandate for independence.”