21:04 GMT14 August 2020
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    The Queen is the head of state in Britain and every year it is a tradition for the monarch to read out the programme of her government. This year there is speculation about whether the Queen’s Speech will be rejected by MPs.

    The Queen has outlined a string of parliamentary legislation which Boris Johnson’s government wants to see enshrined in law in the next 12 months but few people believe much of it will be passed before a General Election.

    Mr Johnson has no majority in Parliament and there has been speculation that the Queen’s Speech will be voted down for the first time since January 1924.

    ​Then it was King George V who read out Stanley Baldwin’s priorities but the King’s Speech was rejected because the Prime Minister had lost his majority in a general election and he eventually resigned and was replaced by Ramsay MacDonald’s minority Labour government.

    That could happen again although if Jeremy Corbyn were to lead a minority Labour government he would need the support of the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, or perhaps some of the 21 rebel Tory MPs.

    "The Queen’s speech today outlined some very encouraging policies designed to get the country back on track following Brexit, which the British public are hoping will take place as planned on 31 October. In particular tougher criminal sentences and an outward approach to international trade are very welcomed. The points-based immigration system, styled on that of Australia, should provide an effective replacement of the EU’s free movement. It is true that some of the policies were framed in somewhat vague language, but that is to be expected. The vagueness also hints at an upcoming general election", David Collins, professor of international economic law at City, University of London and author of Negotiating Brexit: The Legal Basis for EU and Global Trade, says.

    So what is in this year’s Queen’s Speech?

    Brexit Withdrawal Bill

    The Queen said: "My government's priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on 31 October. My government intends to work towards a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation."

    She said Brexit would lead to Britain "seizing the opportunities that arise from leaving the European Union" and creating new policies to govern trade, agriculture and fisheries.

    ​She said: "As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, my government will ensure that it continues to play a leading role in global affairs, defending its interests and promoting its values. My government will be at the forefront of efforts to solve the most complex international security issues. It will champion global free trade and work alongside international partners to solve the most pressing global challenges.”

    Immigration Bill

    Boris Johnson’s government would draft a new immigration bill which would "lay the foundation for a fair, modern and global immigration system."

    "My government remains committed to ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in and contributed so much to the United Kingdom, have the right to remain," she added.

    ​Tens of thousands of Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian workers have moved to Britain in the last 20 years and Mr Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May have both promised to allow them to stay on after Brexit.

    Mr Johnson wants to replace the EU’s “freedom of movement” with a points-based immigration system which would allow skilled workers and those with relatives in the UK to migrate.

    National Health Service

    The opposition Labour Party claims that a no-deal Brexit would lead to the National Health Service being broken up and sold off to US health insurance companies.

    The Queen made no mention of that but said: "Measures will be brought forward to support and strengthen the National Health Service, its workforce and resources, enabling it to deliver the highest quality care."

    She said a new independent body would be created to investigate serious healthcare incidents, such as the recent Stafford Hospital scandal.

    ​The government has also promised a long-awaited Green Paper on reforming adult social care, which has become a major financial burden for local authorities around the UK.

    The Queen said the plans would "ensure dignity in old age."


    The Queen: "My government is committed to addressing violent crime and strengthening confidence in the criminal justice system."

    She said sentencing laws would be changed to "better reflect the severity of crimes" and there would be changes to the handling of foreign national offenders.

    The Home Secretary Priti Patel announced during her speech at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month that serious offenders would have to serve two-thirds of their sentence, rather than half as is currently the case.

    ​Victims of crime will "receive the support they need and the justice they deserve" and would get more input into whether their attackers are paroled.

    The government also promised a Domestic Abuse Bill and other measures to “minimise the impact of divorce on children.”


    The Queen said the government would "ensure that the benefits of a prospering economy reach every corner of the United Kingdom."

    But a question mark remains over one of the flagship policies of David Cameron and Theresa May’s government - the HS2 high-speed railway between London and Birmingham - after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced in August plans for an independent review of the project amid fears it was becoming too expensive.

    ​The Queen said: "My government will set out a long term vision to improve the nation's digital, transport and energy infrastructure".

    She said: "New legislation will accelerate the delivery of fast, reliable broadband to millions of homes."

    The government also announced plans to scrap railway franchises.

    Labour has already said it will renationalise Britain’s railways.

    Climate Change

    With Extinction Rebellion protesters causing havoc in London, the government has given a nod in the direction of the climate emergency.

    The Queen said: "For the first time, environmental principles will be enshrined in law" and measures would be introduced to tackle plastic pollution and improve air and water quality for the benefit of "future generations."

    Hunters who kill endangered animals abroad and bring back heads or other trophies will be targeted by an Animal Welfare Bill.

    "It will prioritise tackling tackling climate change and ensuring that all girls have access to 12 years of quality education."

    Queen's Speech, Queen, Boris Johnson, Brexit
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