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  1. ITV Report

Queen's Speech sets out Boris Johnson's plan for post-Brexit Britain

  • Video report by ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston

Boris Johnson's agenda of seizing Brexit opportunities, fighting crime and improving healthcare has been set out in his first Queen's Speech as prime minister.

Law and order was centre stage in the Queen's Speech, with the prime minister's new legislative programme being viewed as a general election rallying cry.

And the government's main target - taking the UK out of the EU as soon as possible - was another main talking point for the Queen during the State Opening of Parliament.

She opened the speech by telling the Palace of Westminster how her "government's priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on October 31".

She touched on several other matters of policy, however often reverted back to how Brexit presented opportunities in those areas.

  • Robert Peston picks apart Boris Johnson's Queen's Speech and brings us the latest on Brexit

With no Commons majority it's questionable whether the government will be able to implement many of the 26 legislative proposals it has made.

And there is a major question mark over whether MPs will pass the legislative programme, which will go to a vote after several days of debate.

Number 10 has made clear the prime minister will not resign, regardless of the result of the forthcoming debate.

This Queen's Speech - her 65th - appeared to read more like a pre-election manifesto announcement than a presentation of a legislative programme.

In a Commons debate on the speech, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branded it "a propaganda exercise", and claimed a Labour Queen's Speech could be just a few weeks away.

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He told the Commons: "In that Queen's Speech Labour will put forward the most radical and people-focused programme in modern times.

"A once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild and transform our country."

He added: "The prime minister promised that this Queen's Speech would dazzle us.

"On closer inspection, it is nothing more than fool's gold."

Mr Corbyn reiterated his desire for Mr Johnson to extend the Brexit process to avoid a no deal before having a general election, adding the reason the Opposition had not already committed to such a poll was because they "don't trust" the PM.

But Mr Johnson hit back and said he was fearing for Mr Corbyn's "political health" given there had been "Soviet-era expulsions" among his circle, and accused Labour of planning "wanton expropriation" of private assets.

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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."

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said "this Queen's Speech is a charade," and Labour branded the event "farcical" and a "stunt".

Policy proposals include plans 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."

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Issues on immigration and the environment are also major elements of the programme, which had already been extensively trailed.

Other measures include strengthening environmental protections, reforming adult social care and improving the NHS, and raising living standards through increasing the national living wage to £10.50 an hour.

But Labour has labelled the proposals as "an uncosted wish list which the government has no intention and no means to deliver".

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said the Queen's Speech was "farcical" and claimed it is "nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast".

Her Majesty opted to go against tradition and not wear the Imperial State Crown, during the speech - instead the very heavy hat sat on a table close-by.

The Imperial State Crown, made of more than 3,000 gemstones and weighing two pounds and 13 ounces, was 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.

And for the first time ever, a female Black Rod lead MPs from the House of Commons to the House of Lords.

Yeomen of the Guard during the ceremonial search of the Palace of Westminster in London, ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords. Credit: PA

Other measures in the speech include:

  • Environment Bill setting legally binding targets to reduce plastics, restore biodiversity, improve water quality and cut air pollution.
  • Immigration and Social Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill to end freedom of movement and introduce a points-based immigration system from 2021.
  • Sentencing Bill, which 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.
  • Railway reform with a white paper setting out proposals to overhaul the current system of franchising and creating a new commercial model.
  • Action on building standards in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire with the establishment of a new regulator with powers to impose criminal sanctions for breaches of building regulations.
  • NHS Health Investigations Bill will create a new independent body with legal powers to ensure patient safety.
  • Mental health reform to reduce the number of detentions under the Mental Health Act by ensuring more people get the treatment they need.
  • Domestic Abuse Bill, which fell as a result of Mr Johnson's unlawful suspension of Parliament last month.
  • "Helen's Law" bill, named after 22-year-old Helen McCourt who was murdered in 1988, to deny parole to murderers who withhold information about their victims.

So it was an unusual Queen's Speech in terms of content and procedure, but at least some traditions were adhered to.

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner - known affectionately as the Beast of Bolsover - is renowned for making quips during the State Opening of Parliament and it has become part of the pomp and circumstance of the event.

He appeared to mutter "I'm not going", after Black Rod requested MPs' attendance in the House of Lords to hear the Queen's Speech.

This prompted laughter from both sides of the House of Commons.

Mr Skinner, who has represented Bolsover since 1970, remained behind in the chamber as other MPs filed out towards the Lords.

In 2016, he received cheers from some Opposition MPs as he shouted "Hands off the BBC" in the Commons, as MPs were summoned to hear the Queen's Speech.

Another classic Queen's Speech moment - the PM and leader of the opposition walking to the House of Lords side by side - did not fail to deliver .

Several Twitter users shared a screen grab of Jeremy Corbyn grimacing as he walked into the Lords chamber alongside Boris Johnson.

"This should be Labour's election poster," tweeted Labour peer Stewart Wood.

Meanwhile, hopes for a Brexit breakthrough have been kept alive after a suggestion from the Irish deputy premier that a deal could be struck as early as this week.

UK and EU officials will continue talks in Brussels on Monday, with the prospects of an agreement in time for Britain to leave with a deal on October 31 in the balance.

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The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said "technical-level" talks between officials over the weekend had proved "constructive".

And Irish deputy premier Simon Coveney urged caution and said "we're not there yet" - but added that "a deal is possible".

Speaking on Monday morning in Luxembourg, Mr Coveney said: "On Brexit the less we say now the better. But we need to give time and space to Michel Barnier and his taskforce and the British negotiating team.

"I think it's pretty clear what we're trying to do, but there are pretty detailed technical discussions now and I think we need to give the time and space for that to happen.

"Hopefully we can make progress today on those."

  • Watch the Queen's Speech in full: