It may be harder than usual to make sense of the Queen’s Speech this year. Some of the most significant things about the Government’s programme are the measures that will not be in it: the bill to withdraw winter fuel payments from better-off pensioners; the bill to end triple-lock rises to the state pension; and the bill to make homeowners pay for their own social care visits.
Other measures will not be laid before you, as Her Majesty might put it. There will be no repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The new constituency boundaries, supposed to be finalised next year, will probably not take effect. And the creation of new selective schools seems rather unlikely.
Instead, the Government has put together some nonsense about rockets and some environmentally friendly – that is, recycled – legislation. There will be another bill for HS2 and electric cars. The first is the wrong priority, but the second is a good one. There will be welcome bills to cut excessive whiplash claims and to ban lettings fees.
The main business of this Parliament will be the Great Repeal Bill. This is the bill needed to end our membership of the European Union and at the same time to transpose EU law to the UK statute book. In addition, there will be an immigration bill to lay down the rules for when EU freedom of movement ends, and a trade bill – added to the Queen’s Speech at the last minute by Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary – to prepare for trade deals outside the EU.
Philip Hammond refuses to answer question of how long Theresa May has got as PM
This Brexit legislation is so all-consuming that the Government has announced that there will be no Queen’s Speech next year. This is prudent planning: it is going to be hard enough to prepare legislation for Brexit without trying to manage a hung parliament as well over the coming 12 months.
The parliamentary battle over this legislation will be joined while another engagement takes place…