Government announces "ambitious" new policies in Queens Speech
Boris Johnson has set out his “ambitious” new policies and outlined his Brexit strategy in the Queen’s speech on Monday.
26 new bills were introduced which set out Johnson’s Brexit plans, an overhaul of the rail franchising and justice systems and new green targets. The state opening of Parliament has been criticised by opposition parties as an “election manifesto” for the Conservatives.
Speaking on the 26 bills, which includes four bills carried over from the last session, Johnson said that his government’s plans do not solely revolve around getting Brexit done.
The prime minister said: “The people of this country don't just want us to sort out Brexit. This optimistic and ambitious Queen's Speech sets us on a course to make all that happen, and more besides.”
There is the possibility of several proposed bills not being written into law, with Johnson having no majority in the House of Commons. Should MPs reject large portions of the legislative framework Johnson proposes, it will only intensify calls for a general election.
Indeed, the Labour Party has branded Monday’s Queen’s Speech as a “political stunt”, with party leader Jeremy Corbyn calling the State Opening of Parliament a “ludicrous” affair.
Corbyn said: “What we have got in effect is a party political broadcast from the steps of the throne.”
The SNP's Joanna Cherry added that the Queen’s speech was "an election manifesto for the Conservative Party, which will almost certainly be rejected in Scotland”.
Former Conservative cabinet minister Dominic Grieve has also weighed in, suggesting that Johnson will have difficulty governing until the Brexit conundrum is dealt with.
Uncertainty remains over the UK’s Brexit path, but in the Queen’s Speech, the government has laid bare its determination to “get on with governing” and accelerate its plans, after chancellor Sajid Javid announced his first Budget in post for November 6.
Meanwhile, the UK is in continued negotiations with Brussels over trying to seal a Brexit deal which will allow an orderly withdrawal from the bloc by the Article 50 deadline of October 31.
Should the government successfully agree a deal with the EU, a withdrawal agreement bill will be introduced as an absolute priority with a view to passing it through Parliament before the deadline.
The government’s proposals in the Queen’s Speech will be debated later on Monday.
Within the 26 bills, there are seven pieces related to Brexit, including new regulatory frameworks for fishing, farming, trade and financial services, as well as putting an end to freedom of movement and introducing a points-based immigration system by the year 2021.
The prime minister’s proposed environment bill will set out legally binding targets for reducing plastic usage and air pollution, while improving water quality and biodiversity. A separate bill also suggests that trophy hunting will be banned.
On the NHS, Johnson wants to launch a new Health Service Safety Investigations Body with legal powers to intervene in “serious healthcare incidents”, alongside updating the Mental Health Act to reduce the number of people being detained under it.
Johnson has also proposed an overhaul of the rail franchising system in England to improve the reliability of services and put more “distance” between ministers and the day-to-day running of the railway network.
The government also announced measures designed to suppress electoral fraud, with individuals to be required to show an approved form of ID before being allowed to vote in general and local elections.