Boris Johnson will ask voters to “change this blockading parliament” as he launches his party’s election campaign with senior ministers embroiled in a series of damaging controversies.
The Prime Minister will appeal to the country to “get out of our rut” by giving the Tories the parliamentary majority that is the “only way to get Brexit done”.
But Mr Johnson will find himself facing questions about the conduct of his ministers that threaten to knock the Tories off course on the first official day of the election campaign.
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg was forced to apologise yesterday after appearing to suggest victims of the Grenfell tragedy lacked “common sense” for not ignoring fire service advice to stay inside the burning tower.
And Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns was last night facing calls to resign over claims he was informed about the conduct of an adviser who collapsed a rape trial, despite saying he had no prior knowledge of the incident.
Parliament was dissolved at a minute past midnight, with the Prime Minister set to meet the Queen today.
At a party rally in the West Midlands this evening, Mr Johnson will ask voters to “change the dismal pattern of the last three years” and warn that a Labour government would bring further “dither and delay”.
“No prime minister wants an early election, especially not in December,” the Prime Minister is expected to say. “I don’t want an election.
“But as things stand we simply have no choice – because it is only by getting Brexit done in the next few weeks that we can focus on all the priorities of the British people.”
Mr Johnson will add: “It’s time to end this debilitating delay. Let’s go with this Conservative government, get Brexit done, and unleash the potential of our great country.”
Yesterday Rees-Mogg “profoundly” apologised for his comments concerning the victims’ response to advice to “stay put” during the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 in which 72 people died.
The Commons leader was condemned by survivors and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after he said people are safer if they “just ignore what you’re told and leave”.
“I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building,” he told LBC radio. “It just seems the common sense thing to do, and it is such a tragedy that that didn’t happen.”
Grenfell United, which represents survivors and the bereaved, said his words were “beyond disrespectful” and “extremely painful and insulting to bereaved families”.
The Fire Brigades Union said it was “callously irresponsible for a senior government figure to suggest that the public should ignore firefighters when they are in a fire.”
Meanwhile, the BBC reported that it had obtained a leaked email sent to Mr Cairns, which showed he had been made aware of allegations against former staff member Ross England. The claims relate to the collapsed April 2018 trial of Mr England’s friend James Hackett, who was later found guilty of rape.
The judge in the case, Stephen Hopkins QC, said Mr England had “single-handedly” and “deliberately” sabotaged the trial at Cardiff Crown Court, after ignoring instructions not to refer to the woman’s sexual history.