AFTER the Conservatives suffered a bad day on the campaign trail on Monday, it was the turn of Labour to have an embarrassing setback on Tuesday.

Boris Johnson, having undergone a political battering over his response to the plight of a sick four-year-old boy, received relief thanks to a major gaffe from none other than Jonathan Ashworth.

It was the Shadow Health Secretary, who 24 hours earlier had branded the Prime Minister “a disgrace of a man” for refusing to look at a photograph of Jack Williment-Barr, who endured four hours on the floor of Leeds General Infirmary and several hours more on a trolley before getting treatment for suspected pneumonia.

But as the row over Jack’s treatment threatened to dominate the political exchanges for a second day a recording emerged of Mr Ashworth decrying Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and dismissing Labour’s chances of winning the election.

The tape, recorded by a Conservative friend, showed the Labour frontbencher saying the situation facing Labour was "abysmal" because voters "can't stand Corbyn" and thought the party had "blocked Brexit".

Mr Ashworth, who has represented Leicester South since 2011, argued party MPs had "f***ed it up" in 2016 in their bid to remove the Labour leader, saying they "went too early".

Regarded as a key ally of Mr Corbyn, he also suggested that if the Labour leader got into No 10, the civil service machine would "pretty quickly move to safeguard security".

As the recording was aired, the Shadow Secretary of State appeared on the BBC to insist it was all just “banter” with a friend and that he did not mean what he had said and was, in fact, joking.

He suggested he was trying to "psych" his friend out "like football managers do".

"Obviously, with the benefit of hindsight, I've been too clever by half and I look like an idiot as a result of doing it," said Mr Ashworth, who apologised to the Labour Party for his actions.

Mr Corbyn, speaking on a campaign visit in Carlisle, insisted his colleague had his "full support," adding that he was "cool with Jon". The Labour leader suggested a Tory-supporting website had released the tape, claiming: “They're just trying to deflect away from the Tories' mess on the NHS."

Earlier, Mr Corbyn dismissed claims he was a "problem on the doorstep", saying it was not a "presidential election, it's parliamentary election in which we elect Members of Parliament. I'm leader of Labour Party and I'm very proud to have that position.”

But Tory HQ seized on Mr Ashworth’s gaffe. James Cleverly, the Conservative Chairman, said the remarks were an "honest and truly devastating assessment" of Mr Corbyn's leadership "by one of his most trusted election lieutenants".

Later on the stump in Staffordshire, Mr Johnson also highlighted the Labour frontbencher’s remarks, saying: "Jon Ashworth made it absolutely clear that the reason Mr Corbyn is failing to persuade some people to vote for him is he is blocking Brexit; he won't get Brexit done.

"Don't just listen to me, look at what his health spokesman Jon Ashworth has said. He is absolutely right."

At the venue, a JCB cab manufacturing centre near Uttoxeter, the PM entered the cab of a Union-flag themed JCB digger and drove it, smashing into a wall marked “gridlock” to convince voters he could get his Brexit deal through Parliament.

In his speech, Mr Johnson quipped: "As one Conservative said to another Communist, Mr Corbyn it's time to tear down that wall and remove your opposition to getting Brexit done."

The line alluded to a 1987 speech by then-US President Ronald Reagan as he appealed to the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev to open the Berlin Wall.

But the Tory leader suffered another attack on his integrity when Dave Merritt, father of Jack, who was killed in the recent London Bridge terror attack, accused Mr Johnson of exploiting his son’s murder for political purposes.

He told Sky News: “Instead of seeing a tragedy Boris Johnson saw an opportunity and he went on the offensive. He saw an opportunity to score some points in the election; he immediately said: 'Oh, this is Labour's fault, they allowed this to happen, they had this early release policy' and so on.

"At that point...well, I had to say something," declared Mr Merrit.

It was put to him that some people could say that he himself had politicised his son's death due to not liking Mr Johnson.

“If anybody has a right to say something about this situation, then it's me and his family,” insisted Mr Merritt.

"We have lost Jack. Jack can't speak for himself anymore. Had there been no comment in the way that it was made, then I wouldn't have said anything. I would have just carried on grieving and helping to support my family,” he added.

Today, as the two main protagonists in the UK poll traverse the country, trying to convince the undecideds to vote for them, the PM will set out his six key pledges, which are:

*Get Brexit done by January 31;

*invest record sums in the NHS with 50,000 more nurses and 40 new hospitals;

*create 20,000 more police officers and introduce tougher sentences;

*introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system;

*invest in science, education and infrastructure with action to reach net zero emission by 2050 and

*no raising of income tax, VAT or National Insurance.

Mr Johnson, who will begin his final day of campaigning in Yorkshire on a milk round before ending it canvassing in Essex, said: “Whilst my six pledges to the people start with getting Brexit done, they don’t end there.

“We want to invest in the NHS, crack down on crime, tackle climate change and keep taxes low; our priorities are your priorities.

“But Brexit is the key to unlocking this action because unless we get out of this quicksand of a Brexit argument, our future as a country remains uncertain.”

He added: “We are the only party with a plan for the future and the only party whose plan you can trust.”

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn, after an early morning speech in Glasgow, will also travel to Yorkshire, Bedfordshire and end the day at a rally in London.

At an earlier rally in Middlesbrough, the Labour leader will take a leaf out of Barack Obama’s campaign book and deliver a message to the undecideds, telling them: “You can vote for hope in this election.

“It’s time for a pay rise for 12 million people, for lower fares and bills and for free childcare…A Labour government that will be on your side…that will save our NHS.

“It’s time for pension justice for women born in the 1950s and for free personal care for pensioners. And it’s time for everyone to have free education and decent jobs.”

He will go on to say: “We will put money in your pocket because you deserve it. The richest and big business will pay for it.

“We will save our NHS by giving it the money it needs, ending privatisation and by not selling it out to Trump. And Labour will get Brexit sorted; we will secure a good deal for working people and give you the final say.”

Mr Corbyn is due to add: “This is the most important election in a generation and people have the chance on Thursday to vote for a Government for the many, not the few.”

In other developments –

*Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, compared the austerity of the last decade to "housekeeping", suggesting "true austerity" took place after the First and Second World Wars. He told ITV the Conservatives' austerity policy was equivalent to a one per cent reduction in Government spending.

*Official figures showed police received 198 reports relating to parliamentary candidate security between November 15 and December 4. Most of the incidents were allegations of malicious communications online but also include criminal damage and harassment. Around half were serious enough to be treated as crimes.

*Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told a press conference in Westminster that because the PM was backing his "oven-ready deal" rather than a "Super Canada plus" trade agreement, he would "spoil his paper" on Thursday.

*A woman claimed she suffered death threats after being named online as the source of a false claim, that went viral on Facebook, suggesting the photo of the sick four-year-old boy on a hospital floor was faked.

*Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, accused Mr Johnson of peddling “lie after lie after lie” on the issue of EU nationals, saying under the Tories’ Brexit plan there would be a “cut-off date,” meaning not all of them would be allowed to stay. The Scot said it was a “Windrush scandal waiting to happen".

*Mr Corbyn 70, said he "absolutely" had the stamina to serve full five-year term as PM. "I'm very healthy, very fit and very active and I've travelled more than any other party leader in this election...And I eat porridge every morning; if that's a help."