Britain’s lawmakers face an extraordinary, unprecedented task in the coming two years. The great challenge faced by MPs and peers is to prepare for Britain to leave the European Union in a way that brings this country together.
Getting this far has felt like a long journey. After the divisions of the referendum campaign and the legal battles over Article 50, voters could be forgiven for tiring of political clashes. The general election did not produce the result Conservatives had hoped for, and it is now up to us to respond to the message the electorate sent. That means making the priorities of the British people our priorities – and working every day to deliver for them.
That begins with Brexit. Our negotiations with the EU will no longer be conducted under the shadow of a general election looming in 2020. And we now have a Parliament in which the vast majority of MPs stood on a manifesto that is committed to Brexit. So we will work to unite as many people as possible behind our Brexit plans, and the great possibilities that leaving the European Union offer for our country. Preparing for our bright new future outside the EU requires a lot of legislation, as we set out in our Queen’s Speech. On Thursday that Queen’s Speech was passed, so now we can get on with the job.
But this Government will be about far more than just Brexit, and the Queen’s Speech also has the potential to transform our country. We have now begun what is set to be an historic two-year parliamentary session. The Government’s legislative agenda is, as the Prime Minister says, about putting fairness and opportunity at the heart of everything we do. MPs and peers will consider bills that help keep us safe, strengthen the union and lay the foundations of our future economic prosperity. I will work hard in my role as Leader of the House of Commons to deliver this programme. But I want to achieve more than just getting these bills on to the statute book.
In this momentous period of real change much more than Brexit is on the table, for how we conduct ourselves matters. Government ministers will listen and consult, doing our best to be open and responsive to Parliament. Equally, we hope parliamentarians can set aside partisan politics to work together wherever possible in the best interests of our country.
Such a co-operative approach is easiest when there is already a degree of consensus, yet it matters most on the many issues where there are real disagreements. We can of course rely on politicians of all colours to keep challenging the Government whenever they take a different view. The great clamour of discussion and debate is what makes our democracy so admired the world over. Yet by channelling our collective energies towards a single endpoint, and by coming together to improve our country, we can show British voters that there is more to our politics than just pessimistic bickering.
The next two years will define our future. As we shape our place in the world afresh, let us do so in a way that bridges divides. At the beginning of this new Parliament, anything is possible.