Queen Elizabeth II has announced the Government’s two-year legislative programme, with Brexit at its heart.
Many contentious policies, such as those on social care, means-testing winter fuel payments, and scrapping the pensions triple lock, appear to have been dropped along with plans to lift the legal ban on opening new grammar schools.
Instead, the speech put efforts to secure the “best possible deal as we leave the European Union” of the unusually long parliament, with promises to reach a broad consensus in order to “makes a success of Brexit”, establishing new policies on issues such as immigration, agriculture, and fisheries.
Whilst the Government hopes to establish a “deep and special partnership with European allies”, it appears to have committed to leaving the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market, in order to pursue an “independent trade policy”.
Measures to support British businesses to export their products “around the world” will be part of these efforts, with a “new modern industrial strategy” intended to strengthen the domestic manufacturing base.
The Government hopes to “attract investment in infrastructure to support economic growth” to the same end, whilst also generating the “tax revenues needed to invest in the National Health Services, schools, and other public services”.
The Queen also announced bills to support “new industries including electric cars and commercial satellites”, and the next phase of the controversial High-Speed Rail scheme.
Workers were promised an increase in the national living wage and expanded “rights and protections in the modern workplace”.
Also mentioned were plans to do more for “victims of domestic violence and abuse” and to tackle the supposed “gender pay gap” – which many commentators argue does not exist.
Potentially controversial plans to make Britain “the safest place to be online” with a new “digital charter” were also confirmed, with concerns that heavy regulation of the Internet will undermine personal freedom and expression.
The Queen also announced a “full public inquiry into the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower”, as well as a new “independent public advocate” to represent ordinary people following such disasters.
Curiously, whilst a state visit by the Spanish royal family was announced, there was no mention of one for U.S. President Donald Trump, previously thought to have been all but a done deal following the prime minister’s own visit to Washington, D.C.
The Queen concluded her speech by telling the assembled members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords: “I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsel.”