Boris Johnson laid the foundations for a Conservative general election campaign today as he delivered a Queen’s Speech aiming to “re-energise” Britain and set a new direction for the country after Brexit.
The prime minister outlined 26 bills to toughen sentences for criminals, improve air quality and make it easier for patients to get access to new medicines among other initiatives.
There are also seven bills that Mr Johnson claimed would “tear away bureaucratic red tape” and release the “talent, innovation and chutzpah” in every part of the country.
However, without a majority in the House of Commons no one in government expects measures outlined today to pass even the first hurdle of a vote in parliament next week. This would be the first time that a Queen’s Speech has been defeated since 1924.
Nevertheless many of the measures are expected to form the basis of a future Tory manifesto either before or after Brexit.
Among the bills outlined today by the Queen at the state opening of parliament are proposals keep serious criminals in prison for longer, impose tougher sentences on foreign offenders who return to the UK and provide better protection for victims of domestic abuse.
Other proposals include strengthening environmental protections, reforming adult social care and improving the NHS, and raising living standards through increasing the national living wage to £10.50 an hour.
There are also bills to speed up the delivery of internet broadband, make it easier to repatriate holiday-makers if their airline goes bust and replace the present system of rail franchising.
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn walked alongside each other to the House of LordsBoris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn walked alongside each other to the House of Lords
Before the speech, the chancellor announced that he was planning to hold a budget just six days after the UK’s scheduled Brexit date.
In a forward to the speech, Mr Johnson said he wanted to “get the gears on our national gearbox working again”.
“Leaving the EU is a defining opportunity for us to set a new direction for our country — to do the things which we have not been allowed to for decades. People are tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change.”
Labour dismissed the decision to hold the speech before the government goes to the country in an election as a “cynical stunt”.
Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said: “This Queen’s Speech is farcical. It is just an uncosted wish list which the government has no intention and no means to deliver, and nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast.”