Queen to outline United Kingdom government agenda in scaled-down speech

Cheryl Sanders
June 21, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May promised on Wednesday promised to listen more to businesses' concerns about Brexit as Queen Elizabeth formally opened parliament by announcing the government's programme for the next two years. As expected, the government is indeed aiming to use the recent atrocities in Manchester and London to legalise more aggressive Internet surveillance and regulation.

Enlarge / The assembled lords await the arrival of the Queen and the plebes from the House of Commons. With no majority in parliament, it will probably be very hard to enact anything significant. Minority governments can be stable, but the UK's minority governments have usually coincided with the ruling party waning in power. With the possibility of another General Election this year, it's unclear whether the planned visit will now take place this year.

Enlarge / Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn arrive, followed by all the other MPs.

On the eve of the Queen's Speech, the Department of Work and Pensions published a request that reveals that over 200,000 people with mental health issues will have their Employment and Support Allowance payments reduced, due to cruel cuts which just came into force in April. After Brexit, science, technology, and infrastructure were the biggest topics.

"My government will continue to improve the public finances, while keeping taxes low", the Queen said. "It will spread prosperity and opportunity across the country through a new modern industrial strategy".

'This will be complemented by legislation to ensure the United Kingdom makes a success of Brexit, establishing new national policies on immigration, global sanctions, nuclear safeguards, agriculture and fisheries'.

After four terror attacks and a deadly tower block blaze that have darkened the national mood, anti-government protesters are also planning a "Day of Rage" in the streets that will converge outside parliament with temperatures forecast to hit 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) - London's hottest June day since 1976.

A Fisheries Bill will set out rules for how Britain manages farming of its territorial waters.

Earlier this month, United Kingdom media reports suggested the USA president had told Prime Minister May that he would not visit due to a lack of public support in Britain. A bill to authorise the second leg of the High Speed 2 rail link between Birmingham and Crewe was also included.

But the speech was notable also for what it did not contain.

Employment-wise, the Queen mentioned "a major reform of technical education", enhancing the rights and protections of workers, and further progress in tackling the gender pay gap.

Other plans were more vague.

It is customary for the Queen to list state visits during the speech, and the monarch did mention a visit coming up next month by Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia. "The visit wasn't mentioned in the Queen's Speech because a date hasn't been fixed yet".

That hasn't stopped a reaction to the apparent snub in certain quarters, with one Tory-supporting paper calling Mr Corbyn a "National Disgrace".

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