The Queen’s speech, outlining the government’s legislative programme, has been attacked by Labour for lacking any strategy, detail or ideas to deal with the cost of living crisis.
While Boris Johnson effused about the need for legislation to “level-up” and “get Britain back on track”, Sir Keir Stamer said the speech showed the government is “bereft of ideas or purpose, without a guiding principle or a roadmap for delivery”.
Starmer added: “Their time has passed.”
As well as the absence of anything to tackle the cost of living crisis, there was notably nothing about what the government will do about the Northern Ireland protocol. That despite all the recent bluster about reforming the protocol– including today’s Guardian report that foreign secretary Liz Truss intends to scrap it.
Embattled Labour leader Starmer said Johnson’s government has to face up to the cost of living crisis and the imminent peril of stagflation. “If the Tories had simply matched Labour’s record on growth in government, people would have had higher incomes, boosting public finances and we could have spent £40 billion more on public services without having to raise a single tax.”
Instead, Starmer said, the UK is forecast to have the lowest growth of any G7 member (apart from Russia) while public services suffered. Starmer again called for a windfall tax on energy companies and for an emergency budget to help people.
Queen’s speech ‘shows Tories don’t have a clue’, says Sultana
Labour MP Zarah Sultana said the government failed to “outline any plans to solve” the “biggest fall of living standards since records began.”
Sultana added the Queen’s speech “shows the Tories don’t have a clue what life is like for ordinary people”.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, also seized on the absence of anything in the speech to help people deal with rising prices. He said the government has been “so consumed by the crisis of partygate that they have failed to lift a finger to fight the Tory-made cost of living crisis”.
Blackford added: “The very first line of the Queen’s Speech should have been a commitment to bring forward an emergency budget. Where is it? Where is the emergency budget that we need? An emergency budget to tackle now the rising costs of energy, of fuel, and of food.”
Johnson had earlier told MPs his government “can’t shield everyone” from rising prices but it will use “all our ingenuity and compassion for as long as it takes”, adding he and chancellor Rishi Sunak will “be saying more about this in the days to come”.
However, media outlets quickly reported the Treasury is “categoric” that no emergency budget is imminent and there are no other plans to announce any other measures “in the days to come”.
Crackdown on rights to protest
Campaign groups have rounded on “draconian” and Orwellian measures to limit rights to protest which were thrown out by the Lords in the last session, but reintroduced today.
The public order bill, presented to the Commons by home secretary Priti Patel announces new criminal offences aimed at cracking down on tactics used by climate change protestors such as gluing themselves to infrastructure and obstructing transport projects.
Police will also be given new powers to stop and search people they suspect are “going equipped” to lock on to others, objects or buildings.
Other key legislation in the speech includes:
- A new British Bill of Rights aimed at curtailing the role of the European Court of Human Rights.
- A Legacy bill to give Northern Ireland veterans immunity from prosecution.
- Privatising Channel 4 by 2025.
- Measures to ensure free speech on university campuses.
- Changes to planning laws which, the Guardian says, whilst “apparently designed to win back disenchanted Tory voters” the “modest” changes “are a far cry from the radical overhaul originally envisaged”.
- Gay conversion therapy will be banned but not trans conversion therapy.
In all 38 bills were announced, including measures to deal with foreign spies, reform of railways’ oversight, levelling up deprived communities, online-reviews consumer protection and measures to speed up the adoption of renewable energy.
Policies and promises ditched by the government include the ban on foie gras and fur imports which will not now be introduced.
Queen missing for first time in 59-years
Prince Charles stepped in for the mobility stricken 96-year-old monarch to deliver the Queen’s speech in the Lords. It was the first Queen’s speech in 59-years not delivered by her majesty. Charles was joined by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge to jointly open the new session of parliament.
The Imperial State Crown, carried in to the Lords on a cushion, sat alone on a throne for the State Opening of Parliament, beside the prince’s smaller throne.
The crown had been transported to the palace of Westminster in its own car. That was followed in the next car by the Cap of Maintenance, “crimson velvet trimmed with ermine”, and the Sword of State.
The theatrics also involves Black Rod entering the Commons, bowing to the speaker and issuing the Queen’s command that they all attend “immediately” to her counsellors of state in the house of peers.