LONDON — The U.K. government is still determined to see Brexit through by October 31 — and you can take that from the queen.
The monarch opened her speech Monday, which sets out the government’s legislative plans, by making it clear that Boris Johnson’s top priority is “to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on 31 October.”
Speaking from the throne in the House of Lords, the queen said her government intends to develop a new partnership with the EU “based on free trade and friendly cooperation.”
The ceremony marks the beginning of a new parliamentary session and lays out the government’s new legislative agenda, with 26 bills announced on domestic policy areas including crime, immigration, health, and the environment.
However, since Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not command a majority in the House of Commons these plans are unlikely to become law quickly and instead are an indication of what the Tories would promise if they secure a general election.
The speech also set out the government’s intended Brexit outcome, which is subject to agreement with the EU.
In its briefing note accompanying the speech, the government said it intended to implement “a new protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which does not include the backstop arrangements,” a reference to the mechanism designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland that has been widely rejected by MPs. The “substantive provisions” of the bill governing the U.K.’s exit from the EU “would extend and apply to the whole of the U.K.,” the note said.
Accelerated negotiations between the U.K. and EU began on Friday and carried on through the weekend, but it is not yet clear whether the British government will achieve the aims it has set out in the documents.
As the Commons reconvenes this afternoon, Johnson will say that “people are tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change” and promise to “get the gears on our national gearbox working again.”
The government will seek to introduce an Environment Bill to enshrine environmental principles in law and create an independent regulator to scrutinize policy, according to the speech. It will also seek to reform its visa system for skilled migrants, create a new scientific funding agency and set out a national space strategy.
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