Queen’s Speech 2017: May promises ‘humility’

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to work with “humility and resolve” as the government prepares to outline its legislative programme later.

Brexit is expected to dominate the Queen’s Speech, which will cover a two-year period instead of one.

It is also expected to include measures on domestic violence and car insurance.

The Conservatives are still trying to agree terms with the Democratic Unionists to secure their support for Mrs May’s minority government.

It means some manifesto pledges are likely to be scaled back or scrapped.

Sources from the DUP have warned that the party cannot be “taken for granted”, although it is expected to back the Queen’s Speech when MPs vote on it next week.

The speech is written by the government but read by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.

It is the main ceremonial event of the Parliamentary calendar – but this year’s will look different, with much of the usual formalities dispensed with and the Queen wearing “day dress” instead of her usual robes.

The speech will be delivered at 11:30 BST and will be covered live on BBC One, Radio 5 live and online. MPs will begin debating its contents in the afternoon.

With Brexit talks now under way, the government is expected to set out the laws needed to leave the EU – irrespective of the final deal agreed with Brussels.

At the heart of this is the so-called Great Repeal Bill – which will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

It will also copy existing EU legislation to the UK statute book, and Parliament will decide which bits to retain.


A dressed-down Queen’s Speech

Media captionScaled back Queen’s Speech will look a little different
  • The Queen will arrive at Parliament in a car, rather than horse-drawn carriage
  • There will be no royal procession into the House of Lords chamber and the Queen will wear “day dress” rather than robes
  • Her crown will be driven to the Lords in its own car, but she will wear a hat instead
  • It is the first state opening with “reduced ceremonial elements” since 1974
  • This was agreed because of timing issues caused by the snap election – rehearsals clashed with Saturday’s Trooping the Colour event

Other areas where Brexit-related laws are expected include immigration, customs and agriculture.

The government has cancelled next year’s Queen’s Speech, so this one will cover a two-year period to give MPs more time to debate all the Brexit legislation.

Mrs May said the speech would be about “grasping the opportunities that lie ahead for the United Kingdom as we leave the European Union”.

She said: “The election result was not the one I hoped for, but this government will respond with humility and resolve to the message the electorate sent.

“We will work hard every day to gain the trust and confidence of the British people, making their priorities our priorities.”

First the government needs to get a Brexit deal that “commands maximum public support”, she said.

Queen's SpeechImage copyrightPA

“While this will be a government that consults and listens, we are clear that we are going to see Brexit through, working with Parliament, business, the devolved administrations and others to ensure a smooth and orderly withdrawal.”

Ministers have said some parts of the Conservative manifesto would have to be “pruned” following the election result.

These could include controversial plans to axe the winter fuel allowance for well-off pensioners and expanding grammar schools while other proposals, such as a cap on energy bills, will be put out to consultation.

‘Not legitimate’

First Secretary of State Damian Green, a close ally of Theresa May, rejected claims controversial reforms to adult social care funding had been abandoned totally, saying there would be a consultation, prior to legislation, as “getting the details right is difficult and important”.

Mr Green told BBC Radio 4’s Today this was not a “thin” Queen’s Speech since it included a wealth of non-Brexit bills, including a digital charter to boost online safety and legislation on the next phase of the HS2 high-speed rail line.

Although the Conservatives had fallen short of a majority, he said it was “our duty to present our legislative programme to the House of Commons and then to get on with governing”.

Other manifesto pledges that will feature include:

  • a Civil Liability Bill, designed to address the “compensation culture” around motoring insurance claims
  • a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, establishing a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner to stand up for victims and survivors and monitor the response of the authorities
  • a Tenant’s Fees Bill, banning landlords from charging “letting fees”

Labour and the Liberal Democrats each plan to put forward alternative versions of the Queen’s Speech.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Conservatives had “no right to govern”, having “junked their manifesto”.

“They have got the right to bring forward their own programme, but I don’t believe, actually, that they are legitimate in the sense that they have got a mandate that they asked for,” he told Today.

The Lib Dems said their version would call for continued membership of the EU single market and customs union after Brexit.

Party leader Tim Farron said: “This is a government with no clue, no direction and no mandate. The Conservatives may be scaling back on their domestic agenda now that they have no majority to deliver it.”

source: BBC