Boris Johnson formally launched his general election campaign this evening with a rally in Birmingham as he urged voters to help him deliver Brexit and unleash a ‘tidal wave of investment’ into the UK.
The Prime Minister looked to shake off a series of setbacks as he appealed to Tory activists to help him defeat Jeremy Corbyn on December 12 and break the Brexit deadlock.
He claimed voters face a ‘very stark and very clear’ choice between the Tories and Labour at the ballot box as he said: ‘The Labour Party always runs out of other people’s money.’
The Prime Minister also unveiled the Conservative Party’s snap poll slogan: ‘Get Brexit Done Unleash Britain’s Potential’.
His address to the Conservative grassroots came after he delivered a statement on the steps of Downing Street after going to see the Queen to inform her Parliament had been dissolved.
Mr Johnson said the public must decide whether they want a Tory government that would cut ties with the EU and invest in public services, or the ‘horror show’ offered by Mr Corbyn.
But his election push was thrown into turmoil earlier today by the dramatic resignation of Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns over claims that he knew a Conservative candidate had sabotaged a rape trial.
A furious row over Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting that Grenfell Tower victims lacked ‘common sense’ also rumbled on after the Commons Leader apologised.
Meanwhile, a minister apologised for the Tories ‘doctoring’ a video of Sir Keir Starmer struggling to explain Labour’s Brexit policy.
Boris Johnson, pictured in Birmingham this evening, said a ‘tidal wave of investment’ was ready to flood into the UK once Brexit is resolved
Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, and Home Secretary Priti Patel acted as Mr Johnson’s warm up act in Birmingham tonight
T-shirts emblazoned with Mr Johnson’s policy priorities were handed out to Tory activists ahead of this evening’s event in Birmingham. One reads ‘Get Brexit Done’ while another reads ‘20,000 more police officers’
What has happened on the campaign trail today?
- Boris Johnson turned his guns on ‘dithering’ Jeremy Corbyn in a statement on the steps of Downing Street after going to see the Queen to inform her Parliament has been dissolved
- Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has quit over claims that he knew a Conservative candidate had sabotaged a rape trial.
- After Jacob Rees-Mogg apologised for comments about Grenfell Tower victims lacked ‘common sense’, fellow Tory Andrew Bridgen has said sorry for defending him by suggesting ‘cleverer’ people would have ignored official advice to stay put and escaped the blaze.
- A minister has apologised for the Tories ‘doctoring’ a video of Keir Starmer struggling to explain Labour’s muddled Brexit stance.
- Kay Burley empty-chairing Tory chairman James Cleverly on her show this morning – but he claims he was not booked
- Jean-Claude Juncker today delivered a hammer blow to Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit plan as he said Labour’s proposal to negotiate a new divorce deal in just three months is unrealistic.
- Ex-Commons Speaker John Bercow labelled Brexit the ‘biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period’.
Speaking in Birmingham Mr Johnson said: ‘For three and a half years we have seen non-stop political manoeuvring to frustrate Brexit and thwart the will of the people and the result is that the whole Brexit delay is holding us all back.
‘It is like a bendy bus, I banned them in London, jackknifed on a yellow box junction – nobody can get round it, it is blocking the traffic in every direction.
‘The uncertainty and delay are bad for the country because people need to plan, they need to make investments to hire new employees, to buy new homes.
‘And we need a new election and a new parliament because we can’t go on like this and because now is the time to make a change and unleash that tidal wave of investment that is going to flow into this country, a great surge of confidence into the UK and we can do that in just a few weeks.’
Earlier today outside the famous black door of Number 10, 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.’
He added: ‘Come with us, put in a points-based immigration system, or go with Labour, and a totally uncontrolled, an unlimited immigration system that would put huge pressure on the NHS and other services.
‘Come with us, a government that believes Britain should stand tall in the world. Or go with Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party who sided with Putin when Russia ordered poisonings on the streets of Salisbury.
‘Come with us. Get Brexit done, and take this country forward. Or, and this is the alternative next year, spend the whole of 2020 in a horror show of yet more dither and delay.’
Less than an hour before Mr Johnson delivered 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.
Speaking on a visit to Telford today, Mr Corbyn demanded Mr Cairns also stand down as a candidate in the Vale of Glamorgan constituency.
‘If he’s stepping down as a minister because of his involvement then I would have thought the very least the Conservative Party can do is not put him up as a candidate in the next election,’ Mr Corbyn said.
Mr Johnson did not address Mr Cairns’ resignation, which has rocked the first day proper of his party’s election campaign, during his remarks in Downing Street.
Instead, the Prime Minister vowed to ‘get Parliament working again’ if he wins a working majority on Decemebt 12.
He said: ‘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 ‘oven ready’ 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,’ he said.
‘Hundreds of billions are waiting to pour into the UK and we can inject a surge of confidence into our system.’
In a video posted on the way to Buckingham Palace earlier, Mr Johnson expanded on his motivations for wanting an election.
‘There is only one reason. I’m afraid that Parliament is paralysed,’ he said.
In a statement on the steps of Downing Street earlier today Mr Johnson appealed for support from voters to ‘honour the referendum’
Mr Johnson said the public must decide whether they wanted a Tory government that would cut ties with the EU and invest in public services, or Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-Left ‘horror show’.
Mr Johnson (pictured in the entrance hall at 10 Downing Street today) told staff the ‘bugle is sounding’ and he is ‘heading for the front’
John Bercow reveals what he REALLY thinks about Brexit: Former Speaker calls leaving the EU ‘the biggest foreign policy mistake in the post war period’ in his first speech since leaving Commons
John Bercow today labelled the UK’s departure from the European Union the ‘biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period’ as he ditched his impartiality after stepping down as Commons Speaker.
Parliamentary rules meant Mr Bercow was supposed to be impartial when he was in charge of proceedings in the Commons but he has long faced accusations of bias over Brexit.
Mr Bercow addressed a Foreign Press Association event in London this morning and finally set out his personal views on Brexit in public as he also mocked Boris Johnson.
Asked if he believed Brexit would affect the international standing of the UK, Mr Bercow apparently replied: ‘I’m no longer the Speaker so I don’t have to remain impartial now.
‘But if you ask me honestly, “do I think that Brexit is good for our global standing?”, my honest answer is “no, I don’t”.
‘I think that Brexit is the biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period. That is my honest view.’
Mr Johnson set the tone overnight for the election battle to come by delivering an excoriating assessment of Jeremy Corbyn, comparing him to Stalin and accusing him of ‘hating’ wealth creators.
That came as fears were raised that Britain could be frozen out of the ‘Five Eyes’ spy alliance if Mr Corbyn becomes PM.
Concerns are mounting in Whitehall that the flow of intelligence sharing between the UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand could dry up due to a lack of trust in the Labour leader.
Mr Corbyn has been accused of undermining the Trident nuclear deterrent – which Labour in theory is meant to back – by admitting he would never use it.
There are also claims that Mr Corbyn’s closest aides could be blocked from seeing top secret material in Downing Street due to links with Russia and the hard Left.
The warnings, highlighted in the The Times, emerged as Mr Johnson launched an all-out attack on Mr Corbyn’s left-wing ideology.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said that businesses and wealth creators of all sizes should be fostered.
He said: ‘When someone gets up at 5am to get their shop ready; when someone risks their savings on an idea or a new product; when someone has the guts to enter a new market – at home or abroad – we don’t sneer at them.
‘We cheer for them: because their success is our success; and the tragedy of the modern Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is that they detest the profit motive so viscerally – and would raise taxes so wantonly – that they would destroy the very basis of this country’s prosperity.
‘They pretend that their hatred is directed only at certain billionaires – and they point their fingers at individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks.’
Mr Corbyn dismissed the barbs as ‘the nonsense the super-rich will come out with to avoid paying a bit more tax’.
Rebutting the security risk claims, a Labour spokeswoman said: ‘Jeremy has consistently made the correct calls in the interests of Britain’s security and international peace and will do whatever is necessary and effective to keep our people safe.
‘He has proved right time and time again, from Libya to his opposition to the disastrous and illegal war in Iraq, which had caused such catastrophe in the region and made us less safe at home.’