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Boris Johnson fires starting gun on election campaign after Cabinet resignation

The Prime Minister’s speech was delayed by the resignation of Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson approaches the lectern to speak in Downing Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson approaches the lectern to speak in Downing Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Harriet Line, Catherine Wylie, Patrick Daly and George Ryan, PA Political Staff

Boris Johnson says his frustration over delaying Brexit has left him wanting to “chew my own tie” as he launched his party’s election campaign under the shadow of a Cabinet resignation.

The Prime Minister, speaking after an audience with the Queen at which she agreed to dissolve Parliament, said he did not want an early election but that MPs were refusing to deliver Brexit.

His speech was delayed by the resignation of Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, who was accused of “brazenly lying” about his knowledge of an allegation that a Tory candidate had sabotaged a rape trial.

Mr Johnson said: “I want you to know of course it that I don’t want an early election and no one much wants to have an election in December, but we’ve got to the stage where we have no choice because our parliament is paralysed, it’s been stuck in a rut for three and a half years.

“And I’m afraid our MPs are just refusing, time and again to deliver Brexit and honour the mandate of the people.

“I can tell you, I’ve got to the stage where I’ve been wanting to chew my own tie in frustration because, in a sense, we’re so nearly there.

“We’ve got a deal, oven ready, by which we can leave the EU in just a few weeks.”

Less than an hour before making his address outside Number 10, Mr Cairns resigned from the Cabinet “in light of continued speculation” about allegations relating to the “actions of a Party employee and candidate for the Welsh Assembly elections in the Vale of Glamorgan”.

He said: “I will cooperate in full with the investigation under the Ministerial Code which will now take place and I am confident I will be cleared of any breach or wrong doing.”

Mr Cairns claims he had been unaware of former staff member Ross England’s role in the collapsed trial until after the story broke last week.

BBC Wales said it had obtained a leaked email sent to Mr Cairns which showed he had been made aware of the allegations as early as August last year.

Mr Johnson did not address Mr Cairns’ resignation, which has rocked the first day of his party’s election campaign, in his speech.

Instead, the Prime Minister vowed to “get Parliament working again” if he wins a working majority in the polls.

“On day one of the new Parliament in December, we will start getting our deal through so we can get Brexit done in January and unleash this country’s potential. We’ll put uncertainty behind us.”

He said a “flood of investment” was waiting to come in once Britain leaves the European Union with his Withdrawal Agreement.

“If we can get this deal over the line with a sensible majority government, we certainly can release that pent-up flood of investment.

“Hundreds of billions are waiting to pour into the UK and we can inject a surge of confidence into our system.”

Despite the exodus of moderate Tories ahead of the election, Mr Johnson promised to bring in One Nation policies if he remains PM.

“We have the confidence as One Nation Conservatives to make those investments, not despite our belief in a strong private sector, but precisely because we champion this enterprise economy in the UK.

“And it’s only if you have great public services that you can have a successful market economy. So I say, come with us.”

Mr Cairns’ resignation follows calls for another Cabinet minister – Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg – to quit over controversial remarks on the Grenfell Tower fire.

Rapper Stormzy called on Mr Rees-Mogg to resign after the Tory MP suggested that Grenfell victims should have used “common sense” and ignored fire service guidance not to leave the burning tower block.

The Tories have also faced questions about a party campaign video that critics claim had been “doctored”.

Mr Johnson, meanwhile, has been criticised for claiming Mr Corbyn had taken a stance that demonises billionaires with a “relish and a vindictiveness” not seen since Stalin’s attitude to landowners following the Russian revolution.

Mr Corbyn, speaking in his hometown Telford, said he would be a “very different” prime minister if his party wins the election.

“I was not born to rule. None of us in this room were born to rule. I don’t pursue the kind of politics that thinks it’s all a game, a parlour game, a debating society game.

“I want to seek power for our party in order to share that power out all across the country and with all those communities that would have contributed to this historic Labour election victory which we’re looking forward to on 12 December.”

PA

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