Boris Johnson calls Parliament 'paralysed' over Brexit as he launches Tory election campaign

  • Video report by ITV Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Boris Johnson has said the upcoming election is "the most important in a generation", as he launched the Conservatives' General Election campaign.

Addressing a jubilant crowd of Tory supporters, chanting "Boris, Boris" in Birmingham, he said he "had no choice" but to call an election as Parliament was "paralysed" over Brexit.

Mr Johnson described Parliament as an "anaconda that has swallowed a tapir, neither moving one way or the other."

He accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of "wanting nothing more than dither and delay".

"The whole Brexit delay is holding us back, it's like a bendy box, jack-knifed on a yellow box junction, nobody can get round it, it is blocking traffic in every direction, the uncertainty and delay are bad for the country," the prime minister said.

He said the Withdrawal Agreement was "a great deal" as it "delivers everything that I campaigned for, for Brexit" and "is ready to go".

"We can get on, get the deal through Parliament and get on with all the fantastic projects this Government is engaged with," he said.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister had visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace, to formally dissolve Parliament and start the election process.

In his speech, Mr Johnson attacked the Labour party, as the Tories "understand how to pay" for public services.

"The Labour party always runs out of other people's money, that is what always happens and it will happen again," he added.

"They know their policies for the economy are ruinous."

Instead he urged voters to "come with us" and support their policies on education, immigration, and to "stick with our allies."

"[Mr Corbyn] is so consumed with a juvenile dislike of America that he actually sides with the mullahs of Tehran, rather than Washington," Mr Johnson said.

Tory supporters cheer as Boris Johnson launches his party's election campaign. Credit: PA

He reiterated the party's slogan - 'Get Brexit Done' - to the applause and cheers of the crowd and said the Labour leader is not even certain of his own stance on Brexit.

"But he said there is one thing we do know about his Brexit policy and that is another referendum, and that means more delay, more uncertainty, it means more acrimony and division in our country, when this country is aching to move on," Mr Johnson concluded.

"If I come back with a working majority then I will get Parliament working for you and...we will start getting our new deal through so we get Brexit done in January and put the uncertainty behind us."

Despite the enthusiasm of the crowd around him, Mr Johnson faced a major blow on his first day of campaigning, after Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns resigned over allegations he knew a former aide "sabotaged" a rape trial - something Mr Cairns has denied.