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Boris Johnson vows to make Britain ‘the greatest place on Earth’

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Boris Johnson vowed to make Britain the ‘greatest place on Earth’ today as he hailed the Queen’s Speech.

The Prime Minister said the government’s new legislative programme set out his vision to ‘get Brexit done’ and create an ‘open, free-trading country’.

He said: ‘This country is the greatest place on Earth.’ 

The rallying cry came after monarch opened the new Parliamentary session with great pomp and ceremony.

The Queen’s Speech renewed the PM’s ‘do or die’ promise to secure Brexit by Halloween, declaring that was the government’s ‘priority’. But negotiations in Brussels look to be deadlocked, even though Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney said today that a deal is still ‘possible’. A Remainer law obliges Mr Johnson to see an extension to Brexit if an agreement is not in place this week. 

In the Commons this afternoon Jeremy Corbyn branded the plans a ‘farce’ as the government had a majority of minus 45 and no chance of getting laws through. 

The Queen’s Speech proposals included tougher sentences for foreign criminals and child abusers, as well as a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

In a waypointer for the UK’s post-Brexit future, the speech confirmed plans to introduce a Australian-style points-based immigration system.

And it focused on proposals to boost the NHS with more funding, as well as underlining the government’s environmental credentials. 

The government will consult on a 2 per cent council tax charge to raise more money for adult social care, as announced at the Spending Review last month.

In a statement accompanying the speech, Mr Johnson insisted he would ‘get this amazing country of ours moving again’. ‘People are tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change… and they don’t want to wait any longer to get Brexit done.’  

Boris Johnson told the Commons the government’s new legislative programme set out his vision to ‘get Brexit done’ and create an ‘open, free-trading country’

MPs gathered to kick off the debate on the Queen's Speech as Westminster digested the legislative programme today

MPs gathered to kick off the debate on the Queen's Speech as Westminster digested the legislative programme today

MPs gathered to kick off the debate on the Queen’s Speech as Westminster digested the legislative programme today

Speaking in the Commons after the state opening, Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) insisted Boris Johnson knows he cannot get any of the legislation unveiled by the monarch through

Speaking in the Commons after the state opening, Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) insisted Boris Johnson knows he cannot get any of the legislation unveiled by the monarch through

Speaking in the Commons after the state opening, Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) insisted Boris Johnson knows he cannot get any of the legislation unveiled by the monarch through

Opening Parliament, the Queen said the government was determined to seize the 'opportunities' of cutting ties with the EU

Opening Parliament, the Queen said the government was determined to seize the 'opportunities' of cutting ties with the EU

Opening Parliament, the Queen said the government was determined to seize the ‘opportunities’ of cutting ties with the EU

Queen Elizabeth II rides with Britain's Prince Charles in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach on the Mall in London this morning

Queen Elizabeth II rides with Britain's Prince Charles in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach on the Mall in London this morning

Queen Elizabeth II rides with Britain’s Prince Charles in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach on the Mall in London this morning

Yeomen of the Guard pass through the Peers' Lobby to attend the State Opening of Parliament today

Yeomen of the Guard pass through the Peers' Lobby to attend the State Opening of Parliament today

Yeomen of the Guard pass through the Peers’ Lobby to attend the State Opening of Parliament today

Jacob Rees-Mogg looked to be enjoying himself ahead of the ceremony

Jacob Rees-Mogg looked to be enjoying himself ahead of the ceremony

Speaker John Bercow (right) was in his ceremonial gown for the event today

Speaker John Bercow (right) was in his ceremonial gown for the event today

Jacob Rees-Mogg (left) looked to be enjoying himself ahead of the ceremony. Speaker John Bercow (right) was in his ceremonial gown for the event today

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walk through the Peers Lobby this morning

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walk through the Peers Lobby this morning

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walk through the Peers Lobby this morning

The Imperial State Crown is carried on a cushion at the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster this morning

The Imperial State Crown is carried on a cushion at the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster this morning

The Imperial State Crown is carried on a cushion at the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster this morning

There has not been a state opening – one of the great ceremonies of the Westminster calendar – since June 2017.

Parliament has just ended the longest session in modern history as wrangling over Brexit continued to dominate proceedings.

Mr Johnson also had one attempt to prorogue the Houses struck down by the Supreme Court after they ruled he had given illegal advice to the Queen. However, the second bid proceeded without a problem. 

The Queen’s Speech Bills at a glance 

The Queen’s Speech set out 26 separate Bills, as well as other legislative action and measures.   

1. Immigration & Social Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill: Will end freedom of movement and introduce a points-based immigration system. 

The new system is due to be in place from 2021 and is also expected to include measures to encourage migrants to live in areas outside of London when they come to the UK. 

It is hoped that this proposal would help to balance out the UK economy and to counter the so-called ‘brain drain’ of highly-skilled workers moving to the capital. 

2-8. Sentencing Bill; Foreign National Offenders Bill; Sentencing (Pre-Consolidated Amendments) Bill; Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill; Serious Violence Bill; Police Protections Bill; Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill: The government is planning to change sentencing rules so that criminals convicted of serious offences are forced to serve longer prison sentences. 

At the moment many of the worst criminals are eligible to be released after serving half of their sentence. 

Ministers want to extend the amount of time people found guilty of the most serious violent and sexual offences will have to serve before they are able to be let out. 

There will also be a crackdown on foreign offenders who breach deportation orders. 

Meanwhile, parole rules are being tightened to take into account whether a murderer has previously withheld information about their victims. 

9. NHS Health Investigations Bill: To create a new independent body with legal powers to ensure patient safety. 

10. Pension Schemes Bill: Beefing up pensions regulator’s powers, with criminal sanctions against people who ‘recklessly’ put funds at risk 

The most serious abuses would be liable to a seven-year prison sentence and a civil fine of £1million. 

11. Domestic Abuse Bill: Legislation to stop abusers from being able to cross-examine victims, and define domestic abuse in law. The Bill fell in the previous session due to the illegal prorogation of Parliament.

12. ‘Fair Tips’ Bill: Would create a legal obligation on employers to pass on tips to workers in full and on a ‘transparent’ basis – a proposal first made when David Cameron was PM in 2016. 

13. Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill – remove the need to demonstrate blame for quick divorces. 

14. Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – increases maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years. 

Confirms in law that animals are ‘sentient beings’. 

15. Environment Bill: To bring in a legally-binding target to reduce plastic waste and to ensure cleaner air.

It is also due to contain measures to clean up Britain’s air, cut pollution and restore the nation’s biodiversity. 

16. European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: A vehicle for the as-yet incomplete deal with the EU. 

17-19. Agriculture Bill, Fisheries Bill, Trade Bill: Legislation to pave the way for the UK’s departure from the EU.

20. Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill: Speeding up the rollout of superfast broadband.

21. Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill: Measures to crack down on drones.

22. Medicines and Medical Devices Bill: Law to ‘make it simpler for NHS hospitals to manufacture and trial the most innovative medicines and diagnostic devices’. 

23. Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill: Compensating victims of historical abuse at children’s homes, and creating a commissioner. 

24. Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill: Law paving the way for people caught up in the Home Office scandal to receive pay-offs.

25. High Speed Rail 2 (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill: Underpinning the latest phase of the project.

26. Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill: Legal framework for the sporting event. 

Other measures not in Bills: 

Electoral Integrity:  The government is bringing forward measures introducing a legal requirement for voters to show photographic identification before they are allowed to vote in an election. 

It will also crack down on the proxy voting by reducing the number of relatives who are allowed to vote on somebody’s behalf.  

Railway reform: A white paper to set out proposals to overhaul the current franchising system and create a new commercial model

Building safety standards: The establishment of a new regulator with powers to impose criminal sanctions for breaches of building regulations

Railway reform – a white paper setting out proposals to overhaul the current system of franchising and creating a new commercial model. 

Social care: No legislation, but restating pledge to consult on a 2 per cent council tax charge to raise an extra £500million for local authorities  

Mental health reform: Reduce detentions under the Mental Health Act by ensuring more people get the treatment they need

The Queen did not wear her Imperial Crown today in a break with tradition on a day that presents a glorious display of British pomp and circumstance.

The 93-year-old monarch wore her full dress and regalia, including cloak – making it the first time she has worn the full outfit but not the crown. She instead wore the lighter George IV diadem, which dates back to 1821.  

She was accompanied by Prince Charles, as the Duke of Edinburgh has retired from official duties. 

The monarch said: ‘My government’s priority has always been top secure the UK’s departure from the Eu on October 31.

‘My Government intends to work towards a new partnership with the EU, based on free trade and friendly cooperation.’ 

Tensions are building ahead of a crunch EU summit this week – with a titanic showdown expected in Parliament on Saturday whether or not Mr Johnson has managed to thrash out a deal.  

No10 today launched an extraordinary attackon Remainer, who are plotting to try to force a second referendum during the sitting.

A senior source said many of the MP had ‘never respected the 2016 results’.

‘The zealots who are pushing for a second referendum aren’t interested in defending democracy, they are seeking to overturn it,’ the source said.

‘Their aim has always been to delay and to block Brexit for as long as possible so they could artificially engineer a second referendum.

‘The public wants Brexit done, no more delay.’

As is traditional, the Queen’s representative, Black Rod had the doors of the Commons chamber slammed in her face, before being admitted to summon MPs to the Upper House. 

Labour veteran Dennis Skinner gave his usual abrasive comment, telling the official: ‘I’m not going.’  

The politicians then filed through to the lavish Lords chamber, where the Queen delivers the address.

Mr Johnson made an awkward attempt to start up conversation with Mr Corbyn as they walked side-by-side, but the Labour leader seemed to blank him.  

Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds and father Stanley were on hand to watch the grand reopening of Parliament.

In a statement released alongside the speech, Mr Johnson said:  ‘This Queen’s speech delivers on my promise as prime minister to get this amazing country of ours moving again. 

‘People are tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change. They don’t want to wait for improvements in their hospitals. They don’t want to wait for their streets to be made safer. They don’t want to wait for their schools to have the funding they need to give their children the superb education they deserve.

‘And they don’t want to wait any longer to get Brexit done and to answer that clarion call of 17.4million people in the greatest exercise of democracy in our national history.’ 

In total there were 26 Bills listed – with seven relating to crime and justice. 

Measures outlined in the speech include strengthening environmental protections, improving the NHS, and raising living standards through increasing the national living wage to £10.50 an hour.

On adult social care, the Government has pledged to ‘bring forward proposals’ for reform, but the lack of a specific Bill dealing with the situation is likely to draw fire from the opposition.

A consultation was announced at the Spending Review last month for a 2 per cent precept on council tax, which would raise around £500million to help local authorities meet ‘rising demand’. 

A Pensions Schemes Bill will beef up the regulator’s powers, with criminal sanctions against people who ‘recklessly’ put funds at risk. The most serious abuses would be liable to a seven-year prison sentence and a civil fine of £1million. 

A ‘Fair Tips’ Bill would create a legal obligation on employers to pass on tips to workers in full and on a ‘transparent’ basis – a proposal first made when David Cameron was PM in 2016. 

At the same time ministers are preparing to rush through a Bill to ratify any Brexit deal Mr Johnson is able to agree this week in Brussels in time for Britain to leave on the EU on October 31.

But crime and punishment was at the heart of the speech, spelling out that prison terms for those who sneak back into the UK in breach of deportation orders will be lengthened from weeks to years.

And the worst offenders would no longer be freed halfway through their sentences. Rapists and killers would instead serve at least two thirds of their time.

Another law would see murderers who refuse to reveal where they buried their victims spending longer behind bars.  

The proposed legislation will extend to paedophiles who stay silent about their victims. This follows anger over the release of depraved nursery worker Vanessa George after just a decade inside. 

The Queen said: ‘New sentencing laws will see that the most serious offenders spend longer in custody to reflect better the severity of their crimes.’ 

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘Deterring foreign criminals from re-entering the country and putting those that do behind bars for longer will make our country safer.’

The Queen waited patiently in the Lords chamber for MPs to trail in from the House of Commons for her speech today

The Queen waited patiently in the Lords chamber for MPs to trail in from the House of Commons for her speech today

The Queen waited patiently in the Lords chamber for MPs to trail in from the House of Commons for her speech today 

The monarch was assisted by Prince Charles as she carried out her constitutional duties at Parliament today

The monarch was assisted by Prince Charles as she carried out her constitutional duties at Parliament today

The monarch was assisted by Prince Charles as she carried out her constitutional duties at Parliament today 

The Queen's ceremonial train was draped over the stairs as she sat in the throne to deliver her speech today

The Queen's ceremonial train was draped over the stairs as she sat in the throne to deliver her speech today

The Queen’s ceremonial train was draped over the stairs as she sat in the throne to deliver her speech today

Speaker John Bercow chatted to Black Rod Sarah Clarke - the first woman to hold the role - as they walked to the Lords

Speaker John Bercow chatted to Black Rod Sarah Clarke - the first woman to hold the role - as they walked to the Lords

Speaker John Bercow chatted to Black Rod Sarah Clarke – the first woman to hold the role – as they walked to the Lords

Ministers could put 2% on council tax to ease social care crisis 

The government has pledged to ease the social care crisis by introducing a 2 per cent council tax charge. 

A consultation on the move – which would raise around £500million to help local authorities meet ‘rising demand’ – was first announced at the Spending Review last month.  

In her speech today, the Queen said ministers will ‘bring forward proposals’ for reform.

But the lack of a specific Bill dealing with the situation is likely to draw fire from the opposition.

Around 400 criminals are estimated to breach deportation orders each year. Those who are caught face a maximum of six months in jail but typically serve just ten weeks.

Ministers have decided the tougher sentences should stretch to years, but have not yet agreed a tariff. They say the legislation will also disrupt the activities of networks that facilitate the illegal return of offenders.

In August it was revealed that an Albanian double murderer was twice allowed to sneak into Britain and live here for 13 years.

Gentian Doda, a member of a notorious crime syndicate, was granted a British passport under a false name while on the run for the killings, which included gunning down an innocent young father with a Kalashnikov. A separate measure in the Queen’s Speech aims to ensure paedophiles who fail to reveal the identity of their victims will stay in prison for longer.

The proposal to penalise criminals who stay silent comes under ‘Helen’s Law’ after Helen McCourt, a 22-year-old insurance clerk murdered in 1988 by pub landlord Ian Simms.

He has always refused to reveal the location of her body.

What happens next in the Brexit crisis? 

Here is how the coming weeks could pan out:  

Today: Parliament returns for the Queen’s Speech. Negotiations continue in Brussels. 

Wednesday: The final deadline for having an agreement place for sign-off by EU leaders. 

Thursday-Friday: A crunch EU summit in Brussels. Any deal could be signed off by leaders here. If the talks have broken down, expect Boris Johnson to either boycott the event, or stage a dramatic walkout.

Saturday: Parliament will sit on Saturday for the first time since the Falklands War. 

If there is no Brexit deal by this date Remainer legislation obliges the PM to beg the EU for an extension to avoid No Deal. Mr Johnson is likely to force a vote to make MPs ‘own’ any delay.

If there is a deal in place, there will be a make-or-break vote on whether to back it. If passed by the Commons, the government will start rushing legislation through Parliament immediately.  

Monday: Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will let Mr Johnson trigger an election after an extension has been secured. This would probably be the first day when a motion can be brought to a vote under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, or a confidence vote can be held.

October 31: The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU, which Mr Johnson has described as ‘do or die’.  

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland wants to extend this legislation to cover sexual abusers after public outrage over the case of George, 49.

Despite refusing to say which toddlers she had molested in the nursery where she worked in Plymouth she was released after just ten years in jail.

Domestic violence will also be tackled under the legislative proposals.

More than 732,000 such offences were recorded by police in the year to March – a 22 per cent annual increase.

A Domestic Abuse Bill was brought to Parliament in July by Theresa May but it was automatically dropped when Parliament was suspended and ministers have now kept a promise to reintroduce it.

The government is bringing forward an Electoral integrity Bill which will introduce a legal requirement for voters to show photographic identification before they are allowed to vote in an election. 

It will also crack down on the proxy voting by reducing the number of relatives who are allowed to vote on somebody’s behalf. 

The pledge is has prompted Labour anger, with the party ardently against the introduction of voter ID because it believes it will disenfranchise large groups of people. 

Labour former leader Ed Miliband accused the Government of trying to restrict access to voting with proposals on the use of photo ID.

Mr Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds (left) and father Stanley took their places in the Lords gallery to watch the event

Mr Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds (left) and father Stanley took their places in the Lords gallery to watch the event

Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds (left) and father Stanley took their places in the Lords gallery to watch the event

The scene in the House of Lords ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster today

Baroness Mone today

Baroness Mone today

The speech is taking place amid high security

The speech is taking place amid high security

Baroness Mone was among the peers in the House to hear the monarch’s speech today amid high security (right)

The Queen wears the George IV diadem as she sits next to the Imperial State Crown which is placed on a cushion today

The Queen wears the George IV diadem as she sits next to the Imperial State Crown which is placed on a cushion today

The Queen wears the George IV diadem as she sits next to the Imperial State Crown which is placed on a cushion today

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prince Charles on the Sovereign's throne in the House of Lords ahead the Queen's Speech today

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prince Charles on the Sovereign's throne in the House of Lords ahead the Queen's Speech today

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prince Charles on the Sovereign’s throne in the House of Lords ahead the Queen’s Speech today

The Queen left Buckingham Palace this morning on the short drive to Parliament in her Diamond Jubilee State Coach, accompanied by the Prince of Wales.

The Queen left Buckingham Palace this morning on the short drive to Parliament in her Diamond Jubilee State Coach, accompanied by the Prince of Wales.

The Queen left Buckingham Palace this morning on the short drive to Parliament in her Diamond Jubilee State Coach, accompanied by the Prince of Wales.

He Tweeted: ‘Photo ID to vote without any evidence of a problem such an obvious US voter suppression move…plus in small print of briefing document making people re-apply for postal votes every three years….more bureaucracy to disenfranchise more people, particularly older voters.’ 

Queen wears lighter crown for ceremony 

The Queen was back in royal robes and a glittering gown for the State Opening of Parliament today.

In 2017, the monarch wore a day dress and blue hat with yellow flowers which sparked comparisons to the European flag, and arrived by car.

The pomp was scaled back two years ago because the ceremony, after which the Queen dashed off to Royal Ascot, fell too close to Trooping the Colour.

For 2019, the monarch, who this time travelled in a carriage procession in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, returned wearing most of her regalia.

But the 93-year-old head of state wore the George IV Diadem throughout, rather than switching into the heavy Imperial State Crown.

The Imperial State Crown, made of more than 3,000 gemstones and weighing two pounds and 13 ounces, was instead carried through the House of Lords on a red and gold cushion and placed on a table alongside the Queen for the duration of her speech.

It is not the first time the Queen has not worn the Imperial State Crown during a full ceremonial State Opening of Parliament.

She was without it in 1952, as the first State Opening of her reign fell before her 1953 coronation.

Mr Johnson is promising to ensure all tips are paid to waiting staff following an outcry that some major restaurant chains – such as Giraffe and Prezzo – were keeping as much as 10 per cent of tips paid by card.

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill will put a legal obligation on restaurateurs to ‘pass on all trips, gratuities and services charges to workers without deductions’ 

Despite the pomp and pageantry around the Queen’s Speech, it is likely to be voted down in the coming days as Boris Johnson is more than 40 votes short of a House of Commons majority.

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Instead, the proposals will form the backbone of the Conservatives’ manifesto for an election expected in weeks.

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott 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.

‘We always argued that cuts have consequences.’

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted: ‘The Queen’s Speech was an election broadcast for the Tory Party more than anything else. 

‘A speech heavy on law & order from a Prime Minister willing to break the law.’ 

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said: ‘This Queen’s Speech is a charade.’ 

The Band of the Coldstream Guards march past Buckingham Palace ahead of the State Opening of Parliament today

The Band of the Coldstream Guards march past Buckingham Palace ahead of the State Opening of Parliament today

The Band of the Coldstream Guards march past Buckingham Palace ahead of the State Opening of Parliament today

Military bands perform along The Mall ahead of the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

Military bands perform along The Mall ahead of the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

Military bands perform along The Mall ahead of the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

The state opening is one of the great events of pomp and ceremony in the United Kingdom's political calendar

The state opening is one of the great events of pomp and ceremony in the United Kingdom's political calendar

The state opening is one of the great events of pomp and ceremony in the United Kingdom’s political calendar

Yeomen of the Guard were decked out ready for their big day at Westminster ahead of the Queen's Speech today

Yeomen of the Guard were decked out ready for their big day at Westminster ahead of the Queen's Speech today

Yeomen of the Guard were decked out ready for their big day at Westminster ahead of the Queen’s Speech today 

Lady Usher of the Black Rod Sarah Clarke (right) prepares to take part in the State Opening of Parliament this morning

Lady Usher of the Black Rod Sarah Clarke (right) prepares to take part in the State Opening of Parliament this morning

Lady Usher of the Black Rod Sarah Clarke (right) prepares to take part in the State Opening of Parliament this morning

Boris Johnson had his flu jab in No10 today before heading to the Houses of Parliament for the Queen's Speech

Boris Johnson had his flu jab in No10 today before heading to the Houses of Parliament for the Queen's Speech

Boris Johnson had his flu jab in No10 today before heading to the Houses of Parliament for the Queen’s Speech

Boris Johnson to outline plan to end freedom of movement of EU citizens to the UK ‘once and for all’

One of the key planks of the Prime Minister’s first ever Queen’s Speech would see the UK’s immigration strategy dramatically overhauled. 

Ending freedom of movement is at the heart of the Immigration and Social Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill which would see an Australian points-based style system implemented. 

The new system is due to be in place from 2021 and is also expected to include measures to encourage migrants to live in areas outside of London when they come to the UK. 

It is hoped that this proposal would help to balance out the UK economy and to counter the so-called ‘brain drain’ of highly-skilled workers moving to the capital. 

The proposals have long been trailed by the government and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, confirmed the direction of travel in her Conservative Party conference speech earlier this month. 

She told Tory activists at the time: ‘As Home Secretary at this defining moment in our country’s history, I have a particular responsibility when it comes to taking back control.

‘It is to end the free movement of people once and for all. Instead we will introduce an Australian style points-based immigration system. One that works in the best interests of Britain.’

Government plans to get tougher on throw-away plastics 

Theresa May worked hard to try to re-position the Tories as the party of the environment and Mr Johnson is expected to continue that push in today’s Queen’s Speech. 

The government is bringing forward an Environment Bill which will introduce a legally-binding target designed to reduce plastic waste. 

It is also due to contain measures to clean up Britain’s air, cut pollution and restore the nation’s biodiversity. 

Crackdown on crime the centrepiece of Boris Johnson’s Queen’s Speech 

The PM’s first Queen’s Speech is heavy on proposals designed to toughen up the criminal justice system. 

The government is planning to change sentencing rules so that criminals convicted of serious offences are forced to serve longer prison sentences. 

At the moment many of the worst criminals are eligible to be released after serving half of their sentence. 

Ministers want to extend the amount of time people found guilty of the most serious violent and sexual offences will have to serve before they are able to be let out. 

There will also be a crackdown on foreign offenders who breach deportation orders. 

Meanwhile, parole rules are likely to be tightened to take into account whether a murderer has previously withheld information about their victims. 

Major overhaul of railway franchise system to improve train reliability and performance

The Department for Transport launched the Williams Review back in September 2018 to examine the current make up of the UK’s railway system. 

The Queen’s Speech commited the government to bringing forward a white paper based on the findings of that review. 

It is thought that it will pledge to scrap the current franchising model in favour of a system which is underpinned by more of a focus on performance and reliability. 

The government hopes that building in performance-related incentives and penalties into the system will help improve the UK’s creaking railway network. 

Government proposes new building regulator in bid to prevent repeat of Grenfell Tower fire

The government is proposing to introduce of tougher building safety standards in the Queen’s Speech.

There is also set to be a new regulator to enforce them in order to prevent a repeat of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire. 

The new regulator is likely to have powers to impose criminal sanctions on companies found to be in breach of building regulations. 

Boris Johnson to promise to improve patient safety in the NHS

The Queen’s Speech included an NHS Health Investigations Bill which will create a new independent body with legal powers to ensure patient safety. 

The independent health service safety investigations body would have scope to act not just in the NHS but also in social care providers. 

The PM is also due to continue his predecessor’s drive to improve mental health care with successive government’s having been accused of not acting fast enough to tackle the issue. 

The mental health reform is likely to pledge to reduce detentions under the Mental Health Act by making sure that people get the treatment they need. 

Tories to pledge to make UK voting system watertight

The government is bringing forward an Electoral integrity Bill which will introduce a legal requirement for voters to show photographic identification before they are allowed to vote in an election. 

It is also expected to contain a crackdown on the proxy voting by reducing the number of relatives who are allowed to vote on somebody’s behalf. 

The pledge is has prompted Labour anger, with the party ardently against the introduction of voter ID because it believes it will disenfranchise large groups of people. 

Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, said it amounted to a ‘blatant attempt by the Tories to rig the result of the next general election’. 

Ireland insists a Brexit deal IS still possible as Dublin’s deputy PM arrives in Luxembourg for talks – despite fears negotiations will collapse over customs partnership amid Tory fury at EU demands

Dublin today injected fresh optimism into ongoing Brexit talks as Simon Coveney said a divorce deal could still be agreed before a crunch EU summit on Thursday. 

The Irish deputy PM sounded a positive note as he told reporters this morning he believed ‘a deal is possible’ and that an accord ‘may even be possible this week’. 

However, he also warned that ‘we’re not there yet’ as time runs out ahead of a meeting of European leaders in Brussels at the end of the week.

Despite Mr Coveney’s optimism of a way forward being agreed, the path to an accord remains fraught with difficulty as Tory anger at the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier continues to grow after he demanded more concessions. 

Mr Barnier wants Downing Street to move even further towards the bloc’s negotiating position despite mounting fears that a watered down deal will never go through Parliament.

Despite Boris Johnson having already given ground on democratic mechanisms in Northern Ireland, Mr Barnier emerged from a weekend of frantic talks to insist the UK’s blueprint is still not acceptable.

The two teams had locked themselves away in the EU Commission’s headquarters to hammer out a compromise in time for the start of Thursday’s summit – the last scheduled meeting before the Brexit deadline of October 31.

Hopes of a breakthrough rose after Mr Johnson and Irish premier Leo Varadkar declared they could see the ‘pathway to a deal’ last week.

But Mr Barnier, who is viewed by many as the biggest roadblock to a settlement, said there had not been ‘as much progress’ as anticipated during a briefing last night. 

He said Britain had failed to satisfy the EU’s concerns on customs checks, which has dogged talks surrounding the replacement of the backstop – a mechanism to prevent a hard border in Ireland. 

Both sides have said they want a deal but the government is still adamant the UK will leave the EU with or without an agreement on October 31 despite the fact there is now an anti-No Deal in place which will force the PM to ask Brussels for an extension.

Jacob Rees-Mogg last night suggested the government is pinning its hopes of having the option of a No Deal Brexit on the EU simply rejecting any request for a delay. 

Michel Barnier, pictured alongside Simon Coveney in Brussels on October 8, told ambassadors that Britain's Irish backstop alternative is still not acceptable

Michel Barnier, pictured alongside Simon Coveney in Brussels on October 8, told ambassadors that Britain's Irish backstop alternative is still not acceptable

Michel Barnier, pictured alongside Simon Coveney in Brussels on October 8, told ambassadors that Britain’s Irish backstop alternative is still not acceptable

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a meeting at the Elysee Palace yesterday. She told reporters the UK would be the EU's competitor after Brexit

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a meeting at the Elysee Palace yesterday. She told reporters the UK would be the EU's competitor after Brexit

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a meeting at the Elysee Palace yesterday. She told reporters the UK would be the EU’s competitor after Brexit

Details of the compromise plan put forward by Boris Johnson last week are yet to be confirmed but it is thought the proposed way forward is based on a 'customs partnership' between Britain and the EU

Details of the compromise plan put forward by Boris Johnson last week are yet to be confirmed but it is thought the proposed way forward is based on a 'customs partnership' between Britain and the EU

Details of the compromise plan put forward by Boris Johnson last week are yet to be confirmed but it is thought the proposed way forward is based on a ‘customs partnership’ between Britain and the EU

The Commons Leader told the BBC: ‘Theresa May got an extension not through UK law but through EU law and, until the 1972 European Communities Act is repealed, EU law is superior law in the UK.

‘And the Remainiacs all know that, because they know that it takes two to tango and any extension has to be agreed by the council.’

What are the sticking points in the Brexit talks? 

Last week Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar came up with the principles of a new blueprint that brought Brexit talks back from the dead.

However, while both sides are now entertaining that a deal could be possible, significant sticking points remain. 

Customs checks: Mr Johnson’s proposed way forward is thought to involve Northern Ireland leaving the EU’s customs union along with the rest of the UK. 

However, the bloc’s tariffs would be collected on goods heading to the province from mainland Britain in a so-called ‘customs partnership’ so that they are all EU compliant when they arrive on the island of Ireland.

If those goods then stayed in Northern Ireland – and within the UK – then the business receiving them would be eligible for a rebate on the EU tariff charged.

The EU is concerned about the complexity of the plan, the potential for smuggling, and whether technology exists to implement it. 

Northern Irish Consent: The two sides are also thought to have come up with a democratic consent mechanism for Northern Ireland to give the assembly a say on what should happen with border arrangements in the future. 

However, they have hit problems on the technical feasibility of the proposals amid concerns that the offer made by the UK would effectively give the DUP a veto. 

A compromise is believed to be in the works but it is currently unclear exactly what it is. 

Fears PM’s plan is basically the same as one considered by Theresa May: The customs partnership model which Mr Johnson is believed to have offered the EU is broadly based on proposals previously explored by Mrs May. Those proposals were dismissed at the time as being too difficult to implement. 

There are also concerns that they will effectively mean Northern Ireland being treated differently to the rest of the UK – a red line for the DUP and hardline Brexiteers. 

EU diplomats have been briefing that the ‘clock is ticking’ – although it is now expected that talks will be allowed to continue up to the eve of the summit, rather than being halted tomorrow as was initially planned. 

Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson was among those who vented anger at what they view as the obstructive attitude from Brussels.

‘They keep chiselling for more concessions that dilute what appears to be a very generous offer for RE them. The point comes when you have to say enough is enough,’ he told the Daily Telegraph. 

A current Cabinet minister warned: ‘What the EU needs to understand is all their very clever negotiating tactics don’t mean anything if you can’t get it through the House of Commons.’

Steve Baker, head of the Tory Eurosceptic ERG group, said Remainer MPs had encouraged EU intransigence by passing legislation demanding a Brexit extension.

‘The right way to deal with such hard negotiators is good faith, clarity of purpose, ferocious reasonableness, absolute resolve and indefatigable courage,’ he said. 

‘So it’s a pity failing MPs without these characteristics passed the Surrender Act.’ 

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds also voiced doubts over the weekend, suggesting a dual status arrangement would not work and Northern Ireland must stay fully within the UK customs union. 

Mr Coveney tried to restore some optimism this morning as he said he still believes a deal can be done this week. 

‘A deal is possible and it’s possible this month,’ he told reporters as he arrived for talks with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg this morning. 

‘It may even be possible this week, but we’re not there yet.

‘As Michel Barnier said yesterday, there’s still a lot of work to be done so I hope that we can make more progress today.’

He added: ‘On Brexit the less we say now the better.’

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the UK is about to become a ‘competitor’ after holding talks with Emmanuel Macron over dinner last night. 

Her comments represent a major shift in tone and suggest that European leaders are now beginning to accept that Brexit will usher in a new geo-political dynamic between Britain and the bloc.

Mr Barnier stopped short of calling off the talks, which will continue today and tomorrow.

But his bleak assessment dampened hopes of an imminent breakthrough, which is needed if Britain is to leave the EU on October 31 as Mr Johnson repeatedly promises.

One senior EU diplomat said: ‘It’s a kind of Groundhog Day that continues tomorrow on customs.’

Another added: ‘It’ll be difficult to have a legal text ready for the summit, but still not impossible if there’s some movement.’

A third diplomat said: ‘There’s momentum but probably not enough time. Negotiations are, as expected, not easy. But they are moving forward.’

EU officials had already privately said there was little chance of reaching a deal in time.

Mr Johnson’s plan involves creating two customs areas on the island of Ireland, which one senior EU source close to the negotiations described as ‘mind-bogglingly’ complex. 

They added: ‘This requires careful legal work you can’t do hastily. That makes it all very tricky.’

The plan would see Northern Ireland being subject to EU customs tariffs as goods cross the Irish Sea from mainland Britain. But Northern Irish businesses would claim back rebates, meaning it would de facto remain within UK customs jurisdiction.

A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg today had been targeted as the moment at which details of a final divorce deal could be made public.

Mr Macron, pictured meeting the incoming president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Paris this morning, is believed to be opposed to a lengthy Brexit delay

Mr Macron, pictured meeting the incoming president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Paris this morning, is believed to be opposed to a lengthy Brexit delay

Mr Macron, pictured meeting the incoming president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Paris this morning, is believed to be opposed to a lengthy Brexit delay

Under the terms of the so-called Benn Act, Mr Johnson must accept whatever extension is offered by the EU if there is no agreement before the Halloween deadline.

Any new legal text will have to be translated into all of the bloc’s languages and subjected to scrutiny by its legal services.

The EU Parliament must then pass it, where it would have to go through committee hearings before facing a full vote. 

One EU source said it was ‘really unlikely’ all these processes could take place by the end of the month.

UK Government spokesman said there had been ‘constructive discussions’ but that there is still ‘a significant amount of work to be done’.

The full text of the Queen’s Speech to Parliament 

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.

My Government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on 31 October. My Government intends to work towards a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation.

My Ministers will work to implement new regimes for fisheries, agriculture and trade, seizing the opportunities that arise from leaving the European Union. An immigration bill, ending free movement, will lay the foundation for a fair, modern and global immigration system. My Government remains committed to ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in, and contributed so much to, the United Kingdom, have the right to remain. The bill will include measures that reinforce this commitment. Steps will be taken to provide certainty, stability and new opportunities for the financial services and legal sectors.

My Government’s new economic plan will be underpinned by a responsible fiscal strategy, investing in economic growth while maintaining the sustainability of the public finances.

Measures will be brought forward to support and strengthen the National Health Service, its workforce and resources, enabling it to deliver the highest quality care. New laws will be taken forward to help implement the National Health Service’s Long Term Plan in England, and to establish an independent body to investigate serious healthcare incidents.

My Government will bring forward proposals to reform adult social care in England to ensure dignity in old age. My Ministers will continue work to reform the Mental Health Act to improve respect for, and care of, those receiving treatment.

My Government is committed to addressing violent crime, and to strengthening public confidence in the criminal justice system. New sentencing laws will see that the most serious offenders spend longer in custody to reflect better the severity of their crimes. Measures will be introduced to improve the justice system’s response to foreign national offenders. My Government will work to improve safety and security in prisons and to strengthen the rehabilitation of offenders. Proposals will be brought forward to ensure that victims receive the support they need and the justice they deserve. Laws will be introduced to ensure that the parole system recognises the pain to victims and their families caused by offenders refusing to disclose information relating to their crimes.

A new duty will be placed on public sector bodies, ensuring they work together to address serious violence. Police officers will be provided with the protections they need to keep the population safe. They will also be awarded the power to arrest individuals who are wanted by trusted international partners.

My Government will bring forward measures to protect individuals, families and their homes. Legislation will transform the approach of the justice system and other agencies to victims of domestic abuse, and minimise the impact of divorce, particularly on children. My Ministers will continue to develop proposals to improve internet safety, and will bring forward laws to implement new building safety standards.

My Ministers will ensure that all young people have access to an excellent education, unlocking their full potential and preparing them for the world of work. My Government will take steps to make work fairer, introducing measures that will support those working hard. To help people plan for the future, measures will be brought forward to provide simpler oversight of pensions savings. To protect people’s savings for later life, new laws will provide greater powers to tackle irresponsible management of private pension schemes.

To ensure that the benefits of a prospering economy reach every corner of the United Kingdom, my Ministers will bring forward a National Infrastructure Strategy. This will set out a long-term vision to improve the nation’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure. New legislation will help accelerate the delivery of fast, reliable and secure broadband networks to millions of homes. An aviation bill will provide for the effective and efficient management of the United Kingdom’s airspace Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill. Proposals on railway reform will be brought forward.

A white paper will be published to set out my Government’s ambitions for unleashing regional potential in England, and to enable decisions that affect local people to be made at a local level.

My Government is committed to establishing the United Kingdom as a world-leader in scientific capability and space technology. Increased investment in science will be complemented by the development of a new funding agency, a more open visa system, and an ambitious national space strategy.

My Ministers remain committed to protecting and improving the environment for future generations. For the first time, environmental principles will be enshrined in law. Measures will be introduced to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive. Legislation will also create new legally-binding environmental improvement targets. A new, world-leading independent regulator will be established in statute to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action.

Proposals will also be brought forward to promote and protect the welfare of animals, including banning imports from trophy hunting.

The integrity and prosperity of the union that binds the four nations of the United Kingdom is of the utmost importance to my Government. My Ministers will bring forward measures to support citizens across all the nations of the United Kingdom.

My Government remains committed to working with all parties in Northern Ireland to support the return of devolved government and to address the legacy of the past.

My Government will take steps to protect the integrity of democracy and the electoral system in the United Kingdom.

My Government will continue to invest in our gallant Armed Forces. My Ministers will honour the Armed Forces Covenant and the NATO commitment to spend at least two per cent of national income on defence.

As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, my Government will ensure that it continues to play a leading role in global affairs, defending its interests and promoting its values.

My Government will be at the forefront of efforts to solve the most complex international security issues. It will champion global free trade and work alongside international partners to solve the most pressing global challenges. It will prioritise tackling climate change and ensuring that all girls have access to twelve years of quality education.

Members of the House of Commons.

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.

Other measures will be laid before you.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

 

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