Brexit24

Queen’s speech: Still a hard Brexit

Bills to ‘take back control’ of immigration, trade & customs signal hard Brexit in Queen’s speech. What’ll take their place? Who knows!


At the State Opening of parliament today, the Queen set out the government’s legislative programme, which is set to last for two years instead of the usual one. As the BBC reports, this is because the government has already cancelled 2018’s Queen’s speech to give Parliament more time to deal with Brexit laws. Of course, whether it even lasts that long depends on how long this government lasts…

In what many political commentators found to be a rather threadbare speech, various Tory manifesto pledges were absent including any mention of grammar schools, winter fuel allowance, pensions, fox hunting, school meals and what quickly became known as the Tories’ dementia tax. Huffington Post has a good summary of what’s missing from the speech.

Just as the election was meant to be a “Brexit election”, this Queen’s speech was primarily about Brexit. But just as there was very little mention of any actual detail for Brexit in the Tory manifesto, the speech and background notes are also low on detail about it. Of the 27 bills and draft bills in the speech, nine relate to Brexit. They include the Repeal bill (formally known as the ‘Great Repeal bill’), which we already knew about and basically is a ‘copy and paste’ of EU legislation into UK law whilst repealing the 1972 European Communities Act. The other part of the bill would then allow parliament (and controversially, the government) to change those laws.

Another bill that had been alluded to previously is the Immigration bill, which Home secretary Amber Rudd said would cover the rights and status of EU citizens in the UK. However, the speech and background notes have nothing beyond it allowing the government to end free movement and create a new immigration system. There’s no mention of the target but also no mention of what what the new system is likely to look like.

Other Brexit bills also contain very little detail other than an overriding message that these are issues the UK will ‘take back control’ of. They include bills on Customs, Trade, Fisheries and Agriculture. Another two bills relate to the need for the UK to establish new systems because we’ll no longer be part of the EU. They include a Nuclear Safeguards bill and an International Sanctions bill.

A final Brexit bill in the speech is the EU (Approvals) bill is a more technical one. The purpose of which whose is to “implement changes to international agreements between the EU and non-EU countries”.

Although, we still have no idea what the government proposes to replace much of what our EU membership gives us, the speech does appear to confirm its continued pursuit of a hard Brexit – out of the single market and out of the customs union.

Queen a secret EU supporter?

We had an unexpected election this year so the State Opening was a slimmed down affair (like the speech!) with less of the usual ceremonial garb. Instead of wearing the crown, the Queen was wearing a hat that some have noticed looks remarkably like the EU flag…

You can see the Queen’s Speech along with the background notes at gov.uk.

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