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Boris Johnson will bid to get back on track after Partygate and disastrous local elections today with a Queen’s Speech vowing to crack down on eco ‘hooligans’, a Levelling Up drive and a Brexit red tape bonfire.
The government is unveiling its legislative programme for the new Parliamentary session – being kicked off by Prince Charles rather than the monarch for the first time in six decades as she is suffering ‘mobility issues’.
Ministers have already signalled that the measures will include schools and higher education reform to help the post-Covid recovery, punishing owners of unused second homes, and giving locals more power over housing developments.
A law to tackle disruptive action by groups such as Extinction Rebellion is also being announced – reviving powers the government floated in January, before being blocked by Labour and others in the House of Lords.
Legislation to boost energy security is also expected in the package – but so far there has been little sign of new moves on the cost of living, even though Britons are increasingly struggling to cope with inflation soaring towards 10 per cent.
In a round of interviews this morning, Policing minister Kit Malthouse refused to rule out an emergency Budget before the Autumn, but played down hope of quick solutions.
‘As far as the cost-of-living crisis is concerned, it is incredibly challenging for people out there at the moment,’ he told Sky News.
‘Obviously, legislation takes some time to put in place, it has to go through both Houses, it can often be many months, sometimes over a year, before it hits the statute book.
‘I do know the Prime Minister and Chancellor are in constant conversation about how we can be agile in assisting people through this challenging time.’
Mr Malthouse added: ‘We look with alarm at the predictions the Bank of England have made just in the last week or so of inflation peaking towards the end of the year and we will have to think carefully about what our response to that might be.’
In comments ahead of the speech, Mr Johnson delivered a strong hint that he has abandoned the idea of calling an early general election as storm clouds gather over the UK economy, saying the .
Boris Johnson will bid to get back on track after Partygate and disastrous local elections today with a Queen’s Speech vowing to crack down on eco ‘hooligans’, a Levelling Up drive and a Brexit red tape bonfire
Yeomen of the Guard parade through the Sovereign’s entrance ahead of the State Opening this morning
The government is unveiling its legislative programme for the new Parliamentary session – being kicked off by Prince Charles rather than the Queen (pictured together in 2019) for the first time in six decades as she is suffering ‘mobility issues’
A law to tackle disruptive action by groups such as Extinction Rebellion will be announced in the Queen’s Speech today. Priti Patel visiting the Metropolitan Police specialist training centre in Gravesend, Kent
Flurry of Bills set for Queen’s Speech
- Brexit Freedoms Bill Ministers will be able to repeal hundreds of pieces of EU legislation, making it easier to slash regulatory red tape.
- Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill Councils will get new powers to rejuvenate high streets by forcing landlords to rent out empty shop units.
- Media Bill Channel 4 will be privatised. Ofcom is expected to be given regulatory powers over content broadcast by streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+.
- Energy Bill Up to eight new nuclear reactors will be built along with boost to wind, hydrogen and solar energy production.
- Railways Bill The franchising system for train operating companies will be scrapped, with the creation of a new publicly-owned company called Great British Railways.
Mr Johnson is hoping to use the occasion to show he is focused on the ‘people’s priorities’ following a bruising set of local election results.
The PM said last night: ‘This Queen’s Speech will get our country back on track, and I will strive – and this Government will strive – night and day to deliver it.
‘Because in spite of everything we have been through, we are going to ensure that over the two years we have left in this parliament, we spend every second uniting and levelling up this country, exactly as we said we would.’
In an address to MPs this afternoon, Mr Johnson will argue the best way to address the cost of living crisis is to grow the economy.
He will say: ‘We will get the country through the aftershocks of Covid, just as we got through Covid, with every ounce of ingenuity and compassion and hard work.
‘By urgently pressing on with our mission to create the high-wage, high-skilled jobs that will drive economic growth across our whole United Kingdom.
‘That is the long-term, sustainable solution to ease the burden on families and businesses.’
A criminal offence of ‘locking on’ will be created to prevent activists chaining themselves to buildings, vehicles and other protesters.
It will carry a maximum penalty of six months and an unlimited fine.
Stop and search powers will allow police to detain campaigners carrying bike locks and other equipment designed to make themselves difficult to remove.
A new offence will also be introduced to specifically ban the obstruction of key national infrastructure such as airports, railways and newspaper printing presses, which will be punishable by up to 12 months in prison and an unlimited fine.
It will also be illegal to obstruct major transport works, including disrupting the construction or maintenance of projects such as HS2.
And new Serious Disruption Prevention Orders will allow police to ban suspected troublemakers from attending specified events.
Groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil have used guerrilla tactics to wreak havoc in recent years – stopping people getting to work and costing taxpayers millions because of the mammoth police operations.
Mr Malthouse said the measures are designed to stop ‘hooligan’ protests.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We have seen a number of very, very prolific, persistent offenders who decide to just flagrantly ignore the courts and so we’ll be bringing in a new serious disruption prevention order which we can place on them as individuals to deter them, if you like, from this kind of hooligan way of protesting.
‘We believe that protest is fundamental to our democracy but it has to be balanced against the rights of others to go about their business, and indeed keeping us all safe.
‘I’m afraid some of the tactics we’ve seen recently haven’t done that.’
The raft of measures come after Priti Patel visited the Metropolitan Police specialist training centre in Gravesend, Kent yesterday.
During the tour, public order instructor Sergeant Adam Nash showed the Home Secretary some of the tactics and equipment demonstrators use to maximise disarray.
Last night Miss Patel said: ‘The law-abiding, responsible majority have had enough of antisocial, disruptive protests carried out by a self-indulgent minority who seem to revel in causing mayhem and misery for the rest of us.
‘The Public Order Bill will give the police the powers they need to clamp down on this outrageous behaviour and ensure the British public can go about their lives without disruption.’
The legislation will be one of 38 Bills to be announced in the Queen’s Speech.
Other measures will include a Schools Bill making it compulsory for teachers to take registers of absent children so the authorities can identify who is not receiving a full-time education.
A Procurement Bill will give small and medium-sized businesses a better opportunity to compete for Government contracts. Reform of the Official Secrets Act is planned to make it easier to prosecute and deport foreign agents.
No-fault evictions will be stopped under a Renters’ Reform Bill that will also create a national landlord register. And a Gene-editing Bill will let scientists develop techniques to genetically alter livestock, making them resistant to diseases.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is shown an item used by protesters by Public Order Instructor Sergeant Adam Nash
During the Kent tour, public order instructor Sergeant Adam Nash showed the Home Secretary some of the tactics and equipment demonstrators use to maximise disarray. Pictured, an item used by protesters