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Boris Johnson fires starting gun on election campaign after cabinet resignation

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

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 outside Number 10 following 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."