Boris Johnson accused of ‘bluster’ as he launches Conservative campaign
- Credit: PA
Prime minister Boris Johnson has been accused of peddling 'spin and bluster' and wanting to keep people 'angry about Brexit' by one Norfolk election hopeful.
Launching the Conservative election campaign after an audience with the Queen where she agreed to dissolve parliament, Mr Johnson spoke in Downing Street and claimed he did not want a pre-Christmas election but had been left with no choice.
"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," Mr Johnson said as protesters hollered "stop Brexit" from Whitehall.
"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.
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"We've got a deal, oven ready, by which we can leave the EU in just a few weeks."
But North Norfolk Labour candidate Emma Corlett dismissed the speech as "nine minutes of my life I'll never get back".
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She said: "The prime minister's speech was spin and bluster. But what was most worrying of all was the undercurrent of a 'people versus parliament' theme.
"He blamed MPs for not allowing his deal to pass. But he cannot have it both ways - he wanted to 'take back control' but when parliament did by following due process and asking for proper scrutiny he didn't like it.
"Leaving with no-deal, or indeed the deal he got, won't solve anything. On the doorstep I have found that the people who are the most angry about Brexit are the ones who can see that the promises of the Leave campaign are going to be broken whatever happens next.
"But it suits Boris Johnson to keep people angry. Because while people are angry about Brexit they are not focussing on other issues like the NHS.
"I have found that when I have been out campaigning people do want to talk about the issues facing North Norfolk"
But her North Norfolk rival Duncan Baker backed the PM claiming the Tories were the only choice for voters who wanted Brexit.
"The prime minister has got a very clear message - we want to get Brexit done and we are the only party that can achieve that," Mr Baker said.
"The country is fed up. All the research we have shows clearly that people want to move on from Brexit.
"People voted to leave. They did not want political unity with the EU. They wanted the return of sovereignty to parliament and they wanted control over our borders. The deal Boris has got delivers on those reasons people voted to leave.
"I want to concentrate on issues that really impact North Norfolk without the cloud of Brexit hanging over us."
It was a tricky day for Mr Johnson even before he paid Her Majesty a visit. Less than an hour before Mr Johnson made his address outside Number 10, Welsh secretary Alun Cairns resigned from the cabinet. It has been claimed he was aware a Tory candidate had been accused of sabotaging a rape trial.
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 not 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 known as early as August last year.
Mr Cairns' resignation followed calls for another cabinet minister - Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg - to quit over controversial remarks on the Grenfell Tower fire where he said victims should have used "common sense" and ignored fire service guidance not to leave the burning tower.
Meanwhile Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson launched her election battle bus campaign insisting she is the best suited to be the next prime minister.
She said: "I am happy to take on both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, neither of whom is fit to be prime minister, whatever."
Ms Swinson predicted more defections to the Lib Dems after the election by Labour and Tory MPs.