Britain had its second Queen’s Speech in three months as Boris Johnson set out his proposal for a Tory majority government as the Prime Minister declared the seismic election had given way to the most radical Queen’s Speech in a generation that will free the country from the stranglehold of uncertainty.
And while the last State Opening of Parliament in October was a glorified pre-manifesto that’d never pass, the Tories now have a thumping majority of 80 which means these laws will happen and all 22 Bills that were submitted last time are effectively being repeated, plus more than a dozen new ones from the Tory manifesto.
Some are about Brexit, others are suitable measures including making flexible working by default, ultimately scrapping no-fault evictions for renters and cutting business rates on pubs, cinemas and gig venues.
But others will still worry for fear that Boris Johnson is using his newfound power to make extensive ideological changes to the country over the next two years and just days after he won the election, the Queen’s Speech endorsed an embargo on all-out rail strikes, a radical overhaul of the constitution and measures that experts fear could lock left-wing parties further from power.
So, what’s in the Queen’s Speech and what does it all mean?
Well, it means that Boris Johnson plans an extensive overhaul of Britain’s constitution only a week after gaining control. With the Prime Minister announcing that he’s going to be setting up a new commission which could fundamentally alter how Britain operates.
He will use the pretext of rebuilding confidence in politics, even though he was extensively thought to have impaired it during his time at No. 10 so far and Boris Johnson’s Queen’s Speech promises to explore the more comprehensive aspects of the constitution in-depth and to develop proposals to rebuild trust in our institutions and in how our government functions.
But the changes could prompt concerns that the Tory government is endeavouring to reinforce its power and the new unit could redraw constituency boundaries to lessen the number of MPs from 650 to 600, a move which could favour the Conservatives.
Boris Johnson could also revoke the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, meaning he could call an election when he wants to.
There could even be a move to abolish the Human Rights Act, replacing it with a bill of rights that could lower protections and in the wake of Boris Johnson’s Supreme Court loss, Britain’s most superior judges could be made more answerable to Parliament, which could weaken the freedom of the courts.
The Tories will also crack down hard on left-wing causes with prohibitions on both all-out rail strikes and boycott campaigns in the public sector and a new law will hit unions with damages or sanctions if they don’t comply with a Minimum Service Agreement to keep trains running, even during a strike.
Unions have likened the plan to something from a right-wing ‘junta’, and in the meantime, public sector organisations will be banned from blacklisting goods or services from foreign lands including Israel.
Flexible working could become the default setting for all workers under new rules proposed by the government and as part of the Queen’s Speech, Boris Johnson’s Employment Bill will give workers more control over when they work.
Currently, employees can apply for flexible working if they’ve worked continuously for the same employer for the last 26 weeks. The employer then has three months, or longer if agreed with the staff member applying, to decide but the new rules, which are subject to consultation, would make it the default unless employers have a good reason not to.
And under the government’s flexible working, this could refer to job distribution, working from home, working part-time, flexitime, annualised hours, staggered hours, phased retirement and compressed hours.
An NHS Funding Bill will address the Prime Minister’s £34 billion a year cash term (not real terms) increase in NHS funding by 2023 into law but this is a political stunt to show the voters that Boris Johnson will keep his election promise but it has pretty little meaning past that.
It’s up to Boris Johnson if he wants to keep his promises and if he doesn’t he can just revoke the Bill anyway.
The Queen confirmed plans to scrap some hospital car parking charges but not all and the government will prioritise and fully define those groups subject to a more comprehensive evaluation of financial impact.
They will include blue badge holders, regular outpatient attendees, visitors with families who are gravely ill or have an extended stay in hospital or carers where appropriate and staff working shifts that mean public transport can’t be used.
A Renters Reform Bill will stop no-fault evictions, something which the Tory government was accused of dithering over but landlords will, however, get more rights to obtain possession of their property through the courts to make it faster and easier for them to get their property back quickly.
There will also be a lifetime deposit which renters carry around with them so they don’t have to save for a new one each time they move.
Pubs, cinemas and small businesses will see their business rates halved next year. This Bill will endeavour to support Britain’s struggling High Streets with a list of new measures that will see smaller businesses pay less in tax.
The 50 per cent reduction, announced as part of the Queen’s Speech, is targeted at retailers, such as shops, restaurants, hairdressers and pubs, boosting the current discount of 33 per cent off.
The government claim that nine out of ten independent firms will qualify for the relief, which is available to retailers with a rateable value below £51,000, giving them a saving of up to £12,500 in total and for the first time, independent cinemas and music venues will also qualify, in a bid to safeguard local entertainment.
A current £1,500 relief for local newspapers will also be extended by another year, to help keep 150 titles going.
A Counter-Terrorism (Sentencing and Release) Bill will give the most serious terrorist offenders a 14-year minimum prison term and the likelihood of early release from jail will be withdrawn for any offenders who received an Extended Determinate Sentence.
The announcement was hurried into existence by Boris Johnson following the London Bridge attack, whose culprit was a convicted terrorist out on licence.
Boris Johnson was condemned by the father of one of the victims, Jack Merritt, for politicising the attack.
Intelligence chiefs are to be given extensive powers to disrupt and target foreign operatives living and working in the United Kingdom and the Espionage Bill, drawn up in the wake of the Russian Novichok assault in Salisbury, will strive to clamp down on hostile states activities.
And the catch-all law will shut down legal loopholes to ensure it’s always illegal to carry out clandestine operations in the United Kingdom, in an attempt to stop possible rival powers such as Russia or China.
Work began on the law after Theresa May vowed to tackle Russia’s shadowy GRU military intelligence service following the Salisbury nerve attack but there were reportedly concerns from some members of the security community that they lacked the legal structure to seek individuals involved in activity that was being done to help a foreign power or disrupt people in the United Kingdom.
The Bill is supposed to give authorities wide-reaching powers comparable to the US’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, which forces any representative of a foreign power to disclose themselves and their movements.
A Building Safety Bill and Fire Safety Bill will strengthen enforcement and punishments against Grenfell style building owners who don’t comply with a new safety regime but it stops short of saying there will be criminal sanctions as ministers proposed before.
There will also be a Bill to ensure those who sustained life-changing injuries for which Thomas Cook would have been liable still get compensation after the firm collapsed but no sign of authority had been announced in October, which would have endeavoured to prevent a repeat of the Thomas Cook debacle by giving the Civil Aviation Authority oversight over airlines in trouble.
On justice, a Royal Commission to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system will be established and on security, a review of the Official Secrets Act is promised to determine if it needs overhauling in the wake of the Salisbury chemical weapons attack as well as considering whether there’s a case for updating treason laws and an integrated security, defence and foreign policy review will take place to reassess the nation’s position in the world.
Ministers will prepare legislation to better internet security for children and vulnerable people but there’s no full Bill announced yet.
There will nevertheless be interim codes of practice and a media literacy strategy to stay protected online.
And they want an end to irritating allegations against troops and on defence, proposals will be brought forward to stop vexatious claims that undermine our armed forces.
However, Boris Johnson seems to have abandoned promises he made in the autumn to safeguard workers rights after Brexit.
Ministers promised in October to include certain pledges in the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill but signals from No. 10 imply they’ve been abandoned even though Tory Michael Gove insisted it’d all be fine because there was a separate Bill in the speech to deal with workers rights. Well, there is but it doesn’t fulfil Boris Johnson’s promises on workers rights.
Back in October, the government stated ministers would make a statement explaining where any new laws could affect rights and be forced to report regularly on plans to echo new EU laws. Yet a briefing just states the new Bill will protect and enhance worker’s rights as the UK leaves the EU.
The Tories have kicked the can down the road on social care yet again with no definite plans for the ailing sector contained in the Queen’s Speech. Despite Boris Johnson saying he had a solution on the steps of No. 10, the Queen’s Speech instead promises a cross-party strategy to be taken forward urgently. The one red line is that people won’t be forced to sell their homes to pay for care.
Theresa May was accused of kicking the can down the road after she repeatedly shelved proposals for a green paper on social care first planned for summer 2017 but her blighted social care plans in the 2017 general election campaign were dubbed a ‘dementia tax’ and blamed the Tories for losing their majority in the 2017 general election.
Boris Johnson was accused of using the Queen’s Speech as an obvious attempt to rig the result of the next election but the Queen’s Speech confirms measures will be implemented to force voters to show a photo ID before being permitted to vote.
Hundreds of people were denied their right to vote in last year’s local elections after ministers pushed through a pilot scheme, despite warnings it could disenfranchise older voters and people from minority groups and the trial, which was held in eight council areas, resulted in 819 people being turned away.
That was despite official figures showing there were just eight allegations of people lying about who they were at a polling station, known as personation, in 2018.
The Tories will bring back the Domestic Abuse Bill, which fell as a consequence of Boris Johnson’s unlawful suspension of Parliament.
This law was introduced under Theresa May but still wasn’t achieved, to the wrath of campaigners.
It will prevent abusers from being able to cross-examine their victims in the family courts and victims will be considered acceptable for special measures in criminal courts, like giving testimony by video link.
It will create a statutory definition of domestic abuse to include physical violence, emotional abuse, economic abuse and coercive control and a Domestic Abuse Commissioner will observe the response of councils and the justice system.
Plans for quickie divorces will also come forward again thanks to a Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill after being delayed under the Tories.
The changes will eliminate the requirement to establish unsatisfactory conduct or a period of separation and instead couples will be able to simply tell a court their marriage has irretrievably broken down and an obstructive partner will no longer be able to contest a divorce from happening and in those measures place will be a 20 week waiting period between the start of the proceedings and the final order for a divorce.
The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will implement Boris Johnson’s Brexit agreement with the EU by January 31. It covers the transition period, running to December 2020, where we will continue to observe EU rules and send money to the EU.
But there will be a legal block on it being extended, even if we don’t have a trade deal in time and this jeopardises the United Kingdom plunging into a no-deal.
There are further concerns that it forces customs checks on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland and doesn’t include previously promised safeguards for workers rights.
The Fisheries Bill will have powers to control access to UK waters with licences for foreign vessels, which will no longer have the automatic right to enter our seas and the new powers will force constraints on UK fishermen, either quotas or number of days at sea, to replace the current Common Fisheries Policy.
Grants will also be available to fishermen to conserve, enhance and restore the marine and aquatic habitat and EU law could be altered to allow the United Kingdom to respond to new advice on fish produce.
The Agriculture Bill will set up a seven-year transition period that slowly decreases payments to farmers that come under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
The current subsidy system, which rewards the amount of land owned, will be replaced and focus on action farmers take to farm sustainably and improve the environment.
The Trade Bill allows the legal carry over of trade deals that the United Kingdom currently enjoys as an EU member. Yet, this carryover is still not automatic and the United Kingdom would need to negotiate the change with individual nations around the globe.
The Bill also establishes a new independent UK body to protect British firms against unfair trade methods, like the dumping of imports such as Chinese steel.
The Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill will end free movement following Brexit, including imposing checks on EU citizens who come to Britain from January 2021.
It will pave the way for an Australia style points-based system, which UKIP had previously supported. It would score potential migrants based on their education, skills and anticipated salary level.
And EU citizen’s rights to benefits will be decreased to those of non-EU citizens from 2021 and there’ll be a fast track NHS visa scheme and the yearly allowance for seasonal agricultural workers will increase from 2,500 to 10,000.
This Financial Services Bill will simplify the process which allows overseas investment funds to be sold in the United Kingdom and the government has trumpeted this as cutting of red tape while upholding the UK’s world-leading standards but it could prompt concerns from some about letting financial markets run free.
The Bill further allows for long-term market access to the United Kingdom for financial services firms based in Gibraltar.
Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill was designed to clarify the law on disputes over children that spread across national borders. It includes three treaties, 1996, 2005 and 2007 Hague Conventions.
They include making it more difficult for parents who leave the country to dodge paying child maintenance and allowing co-operation between governments on family matters.
A new Health Service Safety Investigations Body will have powers to handle inquiries into NHS incidents that have implications for patient safety, according to a Health Service Safety Investigations Bill.
People will be forbidden from leaking or publishing information held by this body, to ensure witnesses and whistleblowers are more honest and there will also be a burden on the Health Secretary to ensure enough medical examiners are appointed in England and advise, guidance and training will be provided to local bodies to improve medical inquiries.
Violent offenders and sex offenders will face longer sentences in the Sentencing Bill and the point where prisoners are usually released will be moved from halfway through a sentence to two-thirds for adults serving at least four years for serious violent and sexual offenders.
The focus appears to be a U-turn on previous Tory bids to focus on rehabilitation, which would have removed the need for the shortest sentences in favour of community work.
The Bill will further extend the scope of reasons a judge can use to spank a whole-life prison term on a condemned murderer and for Foreign National Offenders legislation would drastically increase the penalties for foreign offenders who return to the United Kingdom in violation of a deportation order.
The specific increase, however, wasn’t spelt out in the Queen Speech and since October it’s been demoted from a full-blown Bill to just legislation, which could mean it’s bound up in something else.
Ministers maintain the move will help disrupt the actions of international crime groups and Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that we’ve been a soft touch on foreign criminals for too long.
A Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill will make it a lot easier to refuse parole to murderers, or those guilty of manslaughter, who declined to say where their victims are buried.
The same law will apply to people who take improper photos of kids while refusing to say who those children were. The law will be known as ‘Helen’s Law’ after 22-year-old Helen McCourt was murdered in 1988, leading to a lengthy campaign by her mother Marie.
Her killer was convicted but refused to say where he hid her body but despite claims by ministers, the law won’t force Parole Boards to keep these killers and paedophiles locked up.
Instead, it will put a legal responsibility on them to take into account the matter when considering release.
A Serious Violence Bill will put a new legal obligation on agencies like councils, schools, social services and health providers to work together and yield data to prevent serious violence.
This will include introducing an explicit priority in law on serious violence for Community Safety Partnerships and it comes following a surge in knife crimes but critics are likely to complain it’s shifting the responsibility onto cuts-hit by local authorities.
Police will face a new test to rate their driving due to a Police Protections Bill, which can then be taken into account if they end up being investigated over a collision. This is in a bid to prevent police facing prosecution unjustly for people they harm or kill when taking part in a car chase.
The Bill will further require the Home Office to report yearly on the progress on the Police Covenant, and Special Constables (volunteers) will be able to get the same support as members of the Police Federation.
An Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill is designed to make it easier for police to arrest internationally wanted fugitives, without the requirement to apply for a UK arrest warrant and the purpose is to cut out a waiting period of six to eight hours which fugitives can use to escape prosecution and those being arrested must be subject to an Interpol Red Notice.
Initially, it will only apply to those issued by a restricted number of countries with trusted justice systems, the other members of the Five Eyes intelligence group, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and two non-EU European states, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Nevertheless, the Government will be able to add other nations by lesser laws, perhaps with minimal scrutiny in Parliament.
Restaurants will be required to hand over tips to workers under an Employment Bill, more than three years after the Tories first vowed to crack down on abuses and the new law in the Queen’s Speech will force employers to pass on all gratuities in full and to distribute fairly any pooled tips.
The Tories first pledged to tackle the injustice under then-business secretary Sajid Javid who ordered a two-month consultation ending on June 27, 2016, but then Theresa May then failed to bring in the change throughout her time in office.
Now the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill also includes a Code of Practice for restaurants, bars and cafes to make the system clear.
Ten years ago, the Mirror launched a Fair Tips campaign with Unite the Union after a Pizza Express manager was dismissed for revealing that the company kept 8 per cent of tips paid by bank cards as an administration fee.
On pensions, there were new rules planned around everything from saving to viewing to accessing money in a Pensions Schemes Bill.
First was saving, with proposals announced for new collective workplace pensions schemes.
These would see workers and firms pay into a single, shared pot, rather than individual pots for each person with the view that it could be more effective and offer greater value.
Second, there were plans to force firms to take part in the new pensions dashboard project, this was set to be a single location where you could see all your retirement savings at once but unless everyone got involved it wouldn’t work, so plans to force firms to take part were a required first step.
Lastly, there were new rules proposed about where, when and to who you could assign your pension to. These were required as there had been instances where scammers had persuaded people to transfer their money and respectable firms had been powerless to prevent it.
On a more technical aspect, there were also larger penalties and criminal offence planned for firms that break pensions laws and better stability for people saving when businesses go bust.
Bills will endeavour to roll out gigabit-capable broadband across the United Kingdom to deliver nationwide coverage as soon as possible and the government maintains it will provide faster speeds that can download an HD film in less than 45 seconds and that all new buildings will require the infrastructure to support gigabit connections and will be introduced into most new build homes.
Police will be given new powers to stop the unlawful use of drones in an Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill, this entails forcing a person to land a drone, with heightened stop and search capabilities if an offence concerning an unmanned aircraft has taken place and this law will also apply to model planes and model helicopters.
It comes after several drones or model aircraft collisions skyrocketed from 6 in 2014 to 125 in 2018, including a spate of shutdowns of Gatwick Airport in a mystery that still hasn’t been resolved.
The government has reacted to pressure to ramp up environmental protection with an Environment Bill and it comes as critics warn that the UK’s regulations will be more limited than the EU’s once Brexit happens.
The new moves included introducing charges for single-use plastics following on from the carrier bag charge and councils will be given powers to clamp down on sources of air pollution and communities will have more of a say on the protection of natural habitats through the Local Nature Recovery Strategies.
The Queen’s Speech endorsed the creation of a new Office of Environmental Protection which was initially announced last December and it will have the ability to take the government to court to implement environmental law following Brexit.
Climate change has been pushed up the agenda in recent months with demonstrations organised by groups including Extinction Rebellion, and the international school strikes begun by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg.
Boris Johnson’s sweetheart Carrie Symonds, who is a senior adviser for US environmental campaign group Oceana, has urged politicians to act, stating they have a gigantic responsibility to care for the environment.
The maximum punishment for animal cruelty offences will be massively ramped up from six months to five years, confirming plans already announced under the Tories and there will also be a clear statement in domestic law that animals are sentient beings.
And there will be a duty on government to have all due consideration to the well-being of sentient animals when planning and managing new policies, however, the status has been peeled back from a previous full Bill.
There were previously other Bills not mentioned by the Queen herself in addition to the 22. They include allowing the building of part of HS2, despite the chance the rail line would be discarded altogether in a government review.
It further includes a Bill to make it easier for NHS hospitals to manufacturing and trial medicines and medical devices and other technical Bills will allow further payments under the Windrush compensation scheme to Brits who arrived from the Caribbean before the 1970s, and technical modifications to legal sentencing in the criminal courts.
Of course, there’s a no bigger fool than a Brexiteer and we have all been misled by Boris Johnson and I can visualise what the remarks will be when it all kicks home on what people have voted for and I’m guessing we won’t wait long either.
But buffoon Boris Johnson really is a laugh a minute and I wager he can hear the sloshing when nodding his head and things may have not been great under Labour but under the Tories, they’ve increased two-fold with numerous people who have died under the Tories and you could be next!
Boris Johnson lied his way to power and the Tories have given us food banks, homelessness, NHS crisis, child poverty and tax evasion although that’s not to say there was no homelessness at any time when Labour was in power, the NHS has been in crisis for decades and child poverty has existed from the year dot.
But now numerous people out there believe that it’s splendid that Boris Johnson has such a huge majority to reshape Britain in his image and that it will be victorious but what’s happening here is that people are supporting a fascist government and you couldn’t make this crap up if you tried and we should be speechless at the fact that no one can see what’s coming but it seems that Boris Johnson is for the few and not the many.
And do we know how and when Brexit is getting done yet? The idea appears to be that we leave but don’t leave on January 31st, then flounder about for another year and then crash out the following year.
And we should be sick and tired of having only 2 voting options, Labour or Tory and our constitution need to be restored properly and introduced with proportionate representation.
But then when Brexit comes home to roost, the Tories might get their just deserts and won’t be able to wiggle out of the blame, and this may well see the end of the Tories when people realise they’ve been misled by the Conservatives.
Boris Johnson was the one who avoided most of the election forums and hid in the fridge and the few sweeties will hide a wealth of Bills to facilitate exploitation and the rules for striking are already punitive but banning it, who the hell does he think he is, Putin!
And we’ve been deceived and misled yet again, but then that’s what Boris Johnson does and the people voted for it and it’s astonishing that in the Queen’s reign that the Queen never learned the art of public speaking because everything that she read from her speech was seemingly provided for by her advisors and I hope that the younger royals speak more from the heart than read prepared speeches.
I guess we could let her make it up as she goes along and yet again, nothing for the pensioners or carers, yet they save the Government thousands because they get neglected and many carers are stressed from caring for the cared for, which is absurd because then they end up in a care home which costs thousands more than these poor pensioners even get paid.
But then did we expect anything else from the Tories after breaking their manifesto promise over TV licences, at least next time we should be informed of what we’re voting for?
But still, people are saying that Boris Johnson is the finest Prime Minister ever, or at least he could be but then some people have a pretty low bar of expectation. However, every case should be assessed on its merits and we should make a list of Boris Johnson’s accomplishments as a Prime Minister.
The problem is some people let greed get the better of them by voting for the despicable Tories and people have short memories.
Who got rid of 22,500 police and waited until the streets were practically uncontrolled before agreeing to restore 20,000, it’s sickening.
Who was responsible for the huge increases in homelessness and food banks? Who cut 35,000 armed service personnel? Or a 10,000 fire service personnel? Yes, the Tory fools and the short-sighted that voted them in.
All they want is tax cuts, then whine when the roads are appalling and there’s no police about and it seems the Tories won the election and the working class lost the lot, and the claim is that the Tories will protect people from having to sell their homes for Social Care but nothing about how the Tories will make them pay for their care.