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 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.’
However, critics have pointed out that none of the Bills being put forward are actually likely to become law, given the government is around 40 votes short of a majority and an election is looming potentially within weeks.
Labour has accused the PM of making the monarch read out a Tory ‘party political broadcast’ and branded the whole event a ‘farce’.
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
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
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
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
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.
The proposed bills at a glance
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.
Crime bills: 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.
Electoral Integrity Bill: 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.
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
NHS Health Investigations Bill: To create a new independent body with legal powers to ensure patient safety.
Mental health reform: Reduce detentions under the Mental Health Act by ensuring more people get the treatment they need
Pension Schemes Bill: Beefing up pensions regulator’s powers, with criminal sanctions against people who ‘recklessly’ put funds at risk
Domestic Violence 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.
‘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.
Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill - remove the need to demonstrate blame for quick divorces.
Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – increases maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years. Confirms that animals are ‘sentient beings’.
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
Environment Bill: To bring in legally-binding target to reduce plastic waste and to ensure cleaner air
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 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.’
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 Jeremy 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.
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.
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 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
Speaker John Bercow chatted to Black Rod Sarah Clarke – the first woman to hold the role – as they walked to the Lords
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.
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, having said he would rather ‘die in a ditch’ than accept one.
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’.
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.
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.