This was no conventional Queen’s Speech.
In fact, it felt more like a pre-election manifesto launch, with a raft of policies designed to win-over large swathes of middle-England. Politically, the Queen’s Speech was carefully crafted to burnish the Conservative Party’s ‘One Nation’ credentials, and to convince those voters alienated by the Government’s Brexit stance that its domestic policy agenda is firmly rooted in the centre ground.
A number of these key policy priorities announced as part of the Speech had already been tested at the recent Conservative Party Conference:
- Delivering Brexit (including successor immigration, farming and fisheries frameworks)
- Getting tough on crime (longer sentences for violent and sexual crimes)
- Improving digital and transport infrastructure (to level the playing field for those ‘left behind’ Brexit-voting constituencies)
- Greater investment in key public services such as schools and the NHS
- Improving air and water quality, tackling plastic pollution and restoring habitats so plant and wildlife “can thrive”
There were 26 Bills in total, though in practice, it is unlikely that any of this legislation will complete its parliamentary passage, at least during this Parliament, given that Boris Johnson simply does not have the numbers in the Commons to implement his legislative programme.
Predictably, The Labour Party have criticised Boris Johnson’s Government for using the event as a distraction from the current political situation, and for playing party politics by effectively turning the Speech into a pre-election Conservative Party broadcast. The Speech has also been attacked by political opponents for its lack of content – there were few surprises and much of the content had been heavily trailed in the weekend press.
The event felt more like a ‘wish list’ of what Boris Johnson’s administration hopes to achieve in the event of winning a General Election. With opposition parties reluctant to acquiesce to a snap poll, today’s pomp and pageantry felt like nothing more than a holding operation as we edge closer to the 31st October Brexit deadline.
Read all the newly announced bills in our Queen’s Speech analysis here and contact the team if you’d like to discuss your public affairs needs.