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The Queen's Speech: Here's Boris Johnson's plan for the UK

There will be “new regimes for fisheries agriculture and trade” after Brexit, the queen told the Commons and House of Lords.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II has outlined the UK government’s plan for legislation and its vision for the UK post Brexit. 

The Queen announced 26 bills, including a crackdown on violent and foreign criminals, measures to invest in the NHS, and plans to protect the environment.

The State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech is the UK’s traditional ceremony where a new parliamentary session begins, and the government’s agenda and proposed policies are outlined.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recommended that the queen prorogue parliament from last week until today after his initial recommendation to prorogue parliament for five weeks was deemed unlawful and void by 11 Supreme Court judges.

“My government intends to work towards a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation,” the queen read out.

Although the queen largely remains apolitical, the reigning monarch has a role in the UK’s democratic function. The speech the queen reads out is written by the government, and sets out its legislative agenda. As the threat of a general election has been looming over the UK for months now, this legislative intention is being treated as an election manifesto. 

In reading out the speech, the queen said that ministers would “work to implement new regimes for fisheries, agriculture and trade, seizing the opportunities that arise” after Brexit.

As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, my Government will ensure that it continues to play a leading role in global affairs, defending its interests and promoting its values. 

In relation to Northern Ireland, the British government said it remained committed to working “with all parties in Northern Ireland to support the return of devolved government and to address the legacy of the past”.

Johnson has proposed an immigration bill for a “fair modern and global immigration system”, where resident EU citizens “who have built their lives in and have contributed to much to the UK” will be provided for. 

A spokesperson for the Home Office told TheJournal.ie that this would not affect Irish citizens: “The Immigration Bill will protect the long-standing status of Irish citizens in the UK when free movement ends and will enshrine their rights in UK law.

There will be no change for Irish citizens and their rights to freely enter and live in the UK unless they are subject to a deportation order, exclusion order or international travel ban.

The UK government also spent a large portion of the speech focusing on fighting crime, and committed to addressing violent crime and ensuring that “the most serious offenders spend longer in custody to reflect better the severity of their crimes”.

“Measures will be introduced to improve the justice system’s response to foreign national offenders,” the queen said.

There was also a plan to raise the national living wage to £10.50 an hour. Other bills include:

  • Environment Bill setting legally binding targets to reduce plastics, restore biodiversity, improve water quality and cut air pollution
  • Immigration and Social Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill to end freedom of movement and introduce a points-based immigration system from 2021
  • Railway reform with a white paper setting out proposals to overhaul the current system of franchising and creating a new commercial model
  • Action on building standards in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire with the establishment of a new regulator with powers to impose criminal sanctions for breaches of building regulations
  • NHS Health Investigations Bill will create a new independent body with legal powers to ensure patient safety
  • Mental health reform to reduce the number of detentions under the Mental Health Act by ensuring more people get the treatment they need.

The centuries-old ceremony is the only regular function where the three elements that make-up the UK parliament – the reigning monarch, the House of Lords and the House of Commons – meet.

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