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Queen’s Speech – Politicising the Queen

Tom Hamilton

There may never have been a previous Queen’s Speech as election-focused as today’s.

All Queen’s Speeches are party political. All Queen’s Speeches are designed to set out how the government intends to put its policies and ideology into effect, and to position the governing party or parties for the next election. But there may never have been a previous Queen’s Speech as election-focused as today’s.

That’s because every previous Queen’s Speech has contained at least some proposed legislation with a chance of becoming law before the next election. And every previous government bringing forward a Queen’s Speech has at least intended it to form a real-life legislative programme. This Queen’s Speech has only one proposal which is even trying to become law this side of an election – the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which would implement any deal agreed between the UK and the EU in the next few days to allow Brexit to happen before 31 October – and that looks like a long shot, to say the least. The rest is quite literally a fantasy.

There are two reasons why this Queen’s Speech is a charade. One is that the Government has no majority and simply cannot pass anything which does not have cross-party support. This was already a problem under Theresa May, and now under Boris Johnson the Government has yet to win a vote in the House of Commons on anything at all.

The second reason is that the Prime Minister has already made clear that he wants a general election as soon as possible: two of the Commons votes he has lost so far were to stop him getting one at his preferred time. And while the opposition parties voted to block an election until they could be confident that a no-deal Brexit on 31 October was impossible, they too are publicly committed to an election at the earliest opportunity after that.

So we are in the unusual position of having a Prime Minister whose own public position is that for Parliament to have time to pass his own programme would be an anti-democratic outrage.

Given all this, making the Queen read it out looks pretty outrageous too.