Queen's Speech 2019: This Is Boris Johnson's Plan For Government

Arj Singh

Boris Johnson has set out his plans for government in a Queen’s Speech he insists is required because Britain is “tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change”.

The monarch has set out 26 heavily trailed bills that aim to ensure Brexit is delivered, crack down on crime, support the NHS, and protect the environment, among others.

But the prime minister faces little chance of getting his proposed laws through the Commons before an election, given his lack of a majority.

Labour has dismissed it as a “farcical uncosted wish list” which cannot be delivered, and said it simply amounts to “nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast”.

And Johnson opened himself up to criticism from his own Tory MPs after ditching a pledge to introduce a bill to protect military veterans from prosecution.

So what is actually in the Queen’s Speech?

Brexit

Brexit negotiations are on a knife edge but the speech included plans for a withdrawal deal bill

Given a deal on Britain leaving the EU has yet to be agreed, it was an awkward moment for the Queen to announce a withdrawal agreement bill, which would put any possible deal into law.

But given the October 31 exit day is a little more than two weeks away, and negotiations are still proving slow and difficult, this legislation may not see the light of day for some time. 

The monarch also announced plans for a new immigration bill to end free movement of EU citizens and introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system, which was promoted by the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum.

Agriculture and fisheries bills will set out how vast new areas of law and subsidies will be governed once Britain takes over control from the EU after Brexit.

A financial services bill will keep the City open to international markets and maintain regulatory standards, while a private international law bill will create a framework for cross-border legal disputes.

Health

Johnson speaks to medical staff during his visit to Watford General Hospital

There is no legislation to accompany Johnson’s big ticket pledge to spend an extra £33.9bn a year on the NHS by 2023-24 as part of a “long term plan” for England.

Neither are there specific proposals to tackle the social care crisis, although the government has committed to bringing forward new laws in future.

Yet both get a mention in the Queen’s Speech, opening the PM up to allegations of using the monarch for electioneering.

The Queen did however announce a number of smaller proposals, including laws to establish a health service safety investigations body with investigatory powers.

There will also be legislative moves to make it simpler for NHS hospitals to manufacture and trial new medicines and devices, and boost innovation.

Law and order 

Another key part of Johnson’s election strategy is to look tough on crime. Again, his key pledge to boost police officer numbers by 20,000 does not require legislation.

Instead, the Queen’s speech confirmed already announced plans to ensure serious violent and sexual offenders serve longer sentences and to ensure foreign criminals spend longer in jail if they return to the UK after being deported.

A version of “Helen’s Law” will make it harder for murderers who refuse to reveal the location of their victim or victims’ remains to be released from prison, while a serious violence bill will place a duty on public bodies to work together to prevent and reduce crime and serious violence.

Police officers will get both the power to immediately arrest fugitives wanted by international partners, and there will be laws to support them by recognising their bravery, commitment and sacrifice.

 

Environment/animal welfare

Extinction Rebellion protesters ensured a safe and easy passage for the Queen from Buckingham Palace to parliament to deliver the speech.

And Johnson is responding to rising concern about the environment with a new bill to establish an office for environmental protection, to increase local powers to tackle air pollution and to introduce charges for specific single use plastic items.

Perhaps inspired by his partner Carrie Symonds, who has long campaigned on animal welfare, Johnson will also increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty, improve the welfare of animals transported for slaughter and ban the import and export of trophies from endangered animals which are hunted.

Economy

No new laws but a commitment to hold a Budget on November 6 was announced ahead of the Queen’s Speech. The government has committed to maintain “strong fiscal discipline” but Chancellor Sajid Javid is sure to have some pre-election giveaways planned.

 

Families and Work

 

Landmark domestic abuse legislation was first introduced by Theresa May

Johnson has pledged to revive the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill which was introduced by his predecessor Theresa May.

It will create a new definition to make clear that abuse can be economic, emotional and coercive as well as physical, while giving greater protections and support for victims. 

There will also be legislation to ensure hospitality staff get to keep their tips, or they are distributed fairly, a measure likely to prove popular among voters given recent scandals on the high street.

There will also be reforms to divorce laws and improving protection for people with pensions.

Education, Infrastructure and Science

Another major Johnson pledge - a multi-billion pound funding boost for English schools - does not require legislation.

But plans to roll out “fast, reliable and secure” broadband across the UK will be eased along by a bill to make it easier for telecoms companies to install digital infrastructure when landlords ignore repeated requests for access.

There is also a move to give police greater powers to tackle the unlawful use of drones, following chaos as Gatwick airport was shut down in the run-up to Christmas last year.

Laws will also be introduced to better protect passengers if their airline goes bust, following the collapse of Monarch and Thomas Cook in recent years.

The Queen also announced plans to end the embattled franchise system on the railways, although this does not need legislation, and there will be laws to ensure the next phase of HS2 - from Birmingham to Crewe - goes ahead, amid speculation that the final phase between the West Midlands and Leeds could be axed.

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