At the opening of each new session of Parliament the government drafts a speech of their intentions for the Monarch to read out, in a grandiose ceremony which was, this time, presented by Prince Charlies, after the Queen pulled out at the last minute.
This marks the first time that Charles has delivered the speech, a sign that power is transitioning from the 96 year old Monarch towards her eldest son.
The government outlined several key commitments and new policies in the speech, although not all are new, and many have been met with controversy.
- “To grow and strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living for families.”
- “Will level up opportunity in all parts of the country and support more people into work.”
- “Ministers will continue to support police to make the streets safer, and support the NHS to reduce the covid backlogs.”
- “Play a leading role in defending democracy and freedom across in world, including to support the people of Ukraine.”
- “Drive economic growth to improve living standards and fund sustainable investment in public services, this will be underpinned by a responsible approach to the public finances; reducing debt while reforming and cutting taxes.”
- “Support the Bank of England to reduce inflation to its target.”
- “A bill will be brought forward to drive local growth, empowering local leaders to regenerate their areas, and ensuring everyone can share in the United Kingdom’s success.”
- “The planning system will be reformed to give residents more involvement in local development.
- “Improve transport across the united kingdom, delivering safer, cleaner services and enabling more innovation. Legislation will be introduced to modernise rail services and improve reliability for passengers.”
- “Bring forward an energy bill to deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy.”
- “Draft legislation to promote competition, strengthen consumer rights, and protect households and businesses.”
- “Create new competition rules for digital markets and the largest digital firms.”
- “Establish the UK infrastructure bank in legislation, with objectives to support economic growth and the delivery of net-zero.”
- “Publish draft legislation to reform the mental health act.”
- “Continue to seize the opportunities of the UK’s departure from the EU, to support economic growth. regulations on businesses will be repealed and reforms. a bill will enable law inherited from the EU to be more easily amended.”
A controversial policy was that of the Northern Ireland protocol – put into sharper focus by Sinn Fein’s victory in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections last week. Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal effectively placed a border in the Irish Sea, effectively carving Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and placing it in customs relations with the Republic of Ireland.
This went against several campaign promises and the reaction in Northern Ireland, as well as trading issues, have resulted in Johnson’s government asking to go back to the drawing board to renegotiate the protocol.
This prompted fury amongst many Northern Irish MPs, as well as drawing criticism from former prime minister Theresa May, whose own Brexit deal would have avoided placing a border in the Irish Sea.
Perhaps the most controversial proposal is a new Bill of Rights, that will actually roll back many rights. The bill explicitly states it is aimed at “curbing the incremental expansion of rights culture” suggesting that perhaps for the first time in history, a Bill of Rights will roll back many of the rights afforded on its people.