The Queen’s Speech was watered down, with Theresa May having to sacrifice chunks of her manifesto in order to increase the likelihood of the speech passing the House of Commons
The much anticipated Queen’s Speech finally came to fruition without much of its usual pomp and ceremony, being the first Queen’s Speech since 1974 that the monarch wore day dress and arrived by car, not carriage.
The Queen’s attire was not the only aspect of the ceremony that was pared down. No longer having the security blanket of a majority government, the version of the Queen’s Speech presented was watered down, with Theresa May having to sacrifice chunks of her manifesto in order to increase the likelihood of the speech passing the House of Commons.
The speech went ahead after a minor delay, despite the fact that the Conservative party are yet to cobble together a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The speech presented 27 bills, eight of which were centred around Brexit. The content of the speech was quite thin considering that the legislation is meant to cover two years of government agenda, the 2018 Queen’s Speech having been cancelled to allow for Brexit negotiations to continue uninterrupted.
The Queen’s Speech omitted entirely or presented vague remnants of the following policies set out in their manifesto:
As expected, Brexit was at the core of the speech. While the government’s planned “Great Repeal Bill” was not explicitly named, the speech laid out the government’s plan to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and end jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Specific bills addressing immigration, agriculture, fisheries and trade were also mentioned.
While the speech did promise renewed commitment to international action against climate change and the Paris Agreement, the lack of reference to an EU environment bill raised some alarm bells due to the wealth of EU environmental legislation that stands to be lost.
Perhaps interlinked with Brexit were measures to improve productivity and encourage innovation in the UK, such as investing in infrastructure and new industries such as electric cars and commercial satellites.
One manifesto pledge that did make it into the speech was to increase national living wage.
The speech also outlined actions to address the recent tragedies that the UK has befallen, the Grenfell fire and recent spate of terrorist attacks.
In response to the former, the government promised the creation of a Civil Disaster Reaction Taskforce and an independent public advocate for bereaved families. Furthermore, a full public inquiry into the fire will be carried out.
To address terrorism, the government promised the creation of a commission to counter extremism and extremist ideology, both in society and online.
Controversial aspects of the manifesto were swapped out for more widely agreeable measures such as tackling the gender pay gap and discrimination, supporting victims of domestic violence and reforming mental health legislation.
The vote on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons is due on June 29.