Boris Johnson’s Queen’s Speech pits regions against each other, Labour claims

·3-min read

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of pitting regions against each other in a “fight” for limited funding.

The Labour leader also claimed the Prime Minister is trying to “run away” from his party’s record in government over the last decade.

Sir Keir did acknowledge there are parts of the Queen’s Speech that Labour is willing to work with the Government on, but his overall assessment was far less complimentary.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sir Keir told MPs: “This Queen’s Speech merely papers over the cracks.

“It’s packed with short-term gimmicks and distant promises, this Government’s never short of those, but it misses the urgency and the scale of the transformation that’s needed in our economy, in our public services and our society and it lacks the ambition or a plan to achieve it.

“At the heart of this Queen’s Speech should have been a jobs plan.”

He added: “A Queen’s Speech that pits regions against each other in a fight for limited funding.

“An economy still driven by chronic short-termism and Government preparing to take money out of the pockets of working people and a Chancellor saddling business with debt when they need to invest.”

On the NHS, he added: “It is unforgiveable that there is no clear plan to fix social care.”

Sir Keir said legislation to ban conversion therapy is “long overdue”, adding: “Conversion therapy is always wrong and indefensible, so we’ll look very carefully when legislation is brought forward, which it must be done soon.

“We will also look carefully at the draft online safety bill, this has been much delayed and we need urgent and effective legislation.

“And we’re always willing, always willing, to work on a cross-party basis to end violence against women and girls.

“We will bring forward our own proposals on this in the coming days but of course we will look at any legislation the Government brings forward in this area.”

Responding, Mr Johnson said the UK must not simply bounce back but “bounce forward”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (second left) walk through the Central Lobby on the way to the House of Lords (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (second left) walk through the Central Lobby on the way to the House of Lords (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Prime Minister told the Commons: “In a matter of five months this country has inoculated over 35 million people, two thirds of the adult population, with the biggest, the fastest programme of mass vaccination in British history, that has helped us to take step after decisive step on our road map to freedom.

“And as life comes back to our great towns and cities like some speeded-up Walt Disney film about the return of spring to the tundra, we can feel the pent-up energy of the UK economy, the suppressed fizz like a pressurised keg of beer about to be cautiously broached on Monday in an indoor setting.”

He told MPs the Government has been using this time to “work flat out to ensure that we can not just bounce back, bounce forward”.

He added: “Because this Government won’t settle for going back to the way things were.

“The people of this country have shown by their amazing response to Covid that we can do better than that and the people of this country deserve better than that.”

Mr Johnson also said: “Though we cannot for one moment minimise the damage that Covid has done, the loss of learning, the NHS backlogs, the courts delays, the massive fiscal consequences – we must use this opportunity to achieve a national recovery so that jabs, jabs jabs becomes jobs, jobs, jobs.”

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