Queen's Speech lays out Boris Johnson's plans to make UK 'the greatest place on Earth'

14 October 2019, 10:52 | Updated: 14 October 2019, 10:57

The Queen wearing blue suit as she prepares for speech
The Queen is preparing to lay out Boris Johnson's plans. Picture: Getty

The Queen will re-open Parliament later and set out what Boris Johnson's calling an 'optimistic' programme to make the UK 'the greatest place on Earth'.

The Queen’s speech, outlining the government’s plans for legislation, will include details of the withdrawal agreement bill, to be voted on if the EU agrees to a Brexit deal this week.

Among the other 22 bills are tougher sentences for violent and sexual offences and legislation to keep serious criminals in prison for longer, impose tougher sentences on foreign offenders who return to the UK and provide better protection for victims of domestic abuse.

They will sit alongside measures intended to invest in the NHS, strengthen environmental protections and raise living standards through increasing the national living wage to £10.50 an hour.

The speech is also believed to include tough new measures for voter ID which will require people to show a photo ID such as a driving license or a passport before they are allowed to cast a ballot.

Responding to the government's plans, Liberal Democrat shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Tom Brake said: “The move by the Government to make voter ID compulsory is a thinly-veiled attempt to rig the results of future elections. We know from the pilot back in 2018 that voter fraud was inconsequential, whilst what the pilot did do was turn away a disproportionate number of vulnerable voters.

"Boris Johnson is clearly taking a leaf out of Trump's playbook by using false claims about voter fraud to suppress turnout."

Darren Hughs from the Electoral Reform Society told LBC: "11 million people don't have a passport or a drivers licence, meaning mandatory voter ID could effectively disenfranchise millions."

Mr Johnson, was keen to focus on his domestic agenda, promising a Queen's Speech that will "get this country moving again".

"The people of this country don't just want us to sort out Brexit," he said.

"They want their NHS to be stronger, their streets safer, their Wifi faster, the air they breathe cleaner, their kids' schools better-funded - and this optimistic and ambitious Queen's Speech sets us on a course to make all that happen, and more besides.

"After one of the least-active parliaments in living memory, the proposals we are bringing forward will get this country moving again.

"This is a Queen's Speech that will deliver for every corner of the UK and make this, once again, the greatest place on earth."

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branded the Speech as "ludicrious" likening it to a "party political broadcast from the steps of the throne."

Boris Johnson has promised the speech will get the country moving again
Boris Johnson has promised the speech will get the country moving again. Picture: Getty

Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott hit out at Mr Johnson's plans, branding them "hypocritical," and "farcical," she said: “It is hypocritical for the Tories to set out these plans when they were the ones who imposed cuts and let crime soar in the first place. Everything was cut, from schools, to the NHS, to the police, to mental health services. They all had terrible consequences.

“This Queen’s Speech is farcical. It is just an uncosted wish list which the government has no intention and no means to deliver, and nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast."

The state opening will commence at 11:25am on Monday, with Parliament resuming business after.

Specific measures expected to be announced include:

- 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.

- Building safety standards 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.

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