With no Commons majority and looming general election, was the Queen’s Speech a waste of time?

The Queen delivers the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament (Picture: Reuters)

The Queen’s Speech has been criticised as a waste of time by opposition MPs who say its measures will never become a reality.

The Queen set out Boris Johnson’s plans in the House of Lords on Monday, but critics accused the prime minister of using Her Majesty to deliver a pre-election party manifesto.

She set out the government’s agenda of 26 bills, which focused on crime, at the State Opening of Parliament.

However, as the Prime Minister has no majority in the House of Commons, there is a strong likelihood that none of the plans will be implemented.

What happened?

The first Queen’s Speech of Boris Johnson’s premiership was dominated by crime, with the package of 26 bills including seven relating to justice.

These include 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.

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."

Prime minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn head the procession to the House of Lords to listen to the Queen's Speech (Picture: Reuters)
The Queen's Speech has been criticised by opposition MPs (Picture: Reuters)

A Sentencing Bill will change the automatic release point from halfway to two-thirds for adult offenders serving sentences of four years or more for serious violence or sexual offences.

Other 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.

The Queen’s Speech was delivered under the cloud of Brexit, with a key EU summit scheduled for Thursday.

What was the reaction?

Opposition MPs have been quick to point out that the measures contained in the Queen’s Speech are almost certain to be voted down later this week because the government does not have a majority in the Commons.

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson said: “This is a charade of a Queen’s Speech.”

Lib Dems MP Luciana Berger tweeted: “Devastating, embarrassing #QueensSpeech - particularly with such a diverse audience of international guests, watching from the gallery.”

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The Liberal Democrats tweeted from the party’s official account: “The Tory party manifesto that is today's #QueensSpeech is nothing more than an election gimmick driven by Boris Johnson.”

The Labour Party branded the speech as a “cynical stunt”, with leader Jeremy Corbyn previously calling it a waste of time.

Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson do no see eye to eye (Picture: AFP/Getty)

“Having a Queen's Speech and a State Opening of Parliament is ludicrous,” he said. “What we have got in effect is a party political broadcast from the steps of the throne."

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. @BorisJohnson must sign the letter asking for an EU extension as the Benn act compels him if no deal is agreed."

What is the Prime Minister’s argument?

In his introduction to the Queen’s Speech, contained in a 130-page briefing pack on the bills, 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 17.4 million people in the greatest exercise of democracy in our national history.

Queen Elizabeth II enters the Robing Room from the Norman Porch as she attends the State Opening of Parliament (Picture: AFP/Getty

“So we are going to get the gears on our national gearbox working again.

“Leaving the EU is a defining opportunity for us to set a new course and a new direction for our country – to do the things we have not been allowed to for decades, to tear away that bureaucratic red tape, to set our own rules, and to release the talent, creativity, innovation and chutzpah that exists in every corner of our United Kingdom.”

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