Queen's Speech unveils Brexit-focused agenda at troubled time

Elias Hubbard
June 25, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, whose surprisingly strong election performance damaged May, called the speech "thin gruel".

As she formally opened what the embattled prime minister hopes will be a two-year session of parliament, Guardian said the Queen set out the government's intention to deliver the eight bills necessary for Brexit - including legislation allowing Britain to determine its own immigration, customs and trade arrangements.

There was no mention of May's hugely controversial invitation to US President Donald Trump to come on a state visit.

Centrepiece of Mrs May's programme was the Repeal Bill which will transfer relevant European Union laws on to the United Kingdom statute book at the moment of Brexit in March 2019, with the aim of delivering "a smooth and orderly transition" and avoiding uncertainty for businesses and individuals.

"Downing Street is a vacuum", the newspaper said, two days after Britain and the European Union formally started their Brexit negotiations.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire and a string of terror attacks, the Prime Minister also announced plans for a Civil Disaster Reaction Taskforce and a new Commission for Countering Extremism, as well as a review of counter-terror strategy and the creation of an independent public advocate to act on behalf of bereaved families.

While powers will be revised, there was no mention of police resources.

As London sweltered in unseasonably hot weather, about 250 protesters gathered outside parliament after the speech, blaming the deadly fire in west London on years of Conservative cuts and demanding the fall of May's government. MPs will be asked to support the speech in a vote next week - and opposition parties are likely to table a series of amendments.

Buckingham Palace said it was a "precautionary measure" for treatment of an infection arising from a pre-existing condition.

The State Opening of Parliament, delayed by two days because of confusion caused by the inconclusive result of the June 8 election, took place without some of the traditional ceremony, with the Queen arriving by auto rather than carriage and wearing a blue dress and hat rather than her robes and state crown.

Theresa May has vowed to overcome the divisions in British society exposed in this month's General Election and to build consensus on Brexit, as she ditched or watered down numerous flagship policies from the Conservative manifesto. Her attempt to secure a larger mandate ahead of the Brexit negotiations backfired with her losing a commanding majority.

In written remarks prepared for the first day of Parliament, the troubled Prime Minister began trying to undo some of the key messages from the Conservatives' election campaign, saying that social care would be addressed and that every school should be fairly funded. If the government fails to win the backing of a majority of MPs, then it will be seen as a vote of no confidence.

May's program for government was largely restricted to the technical work of making sure Brexit can happen: a bill that sets out how the government will transpose huge swathes of European Union law into British law and separate bills on related topics such as immigration, customs and fisheries.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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