Queen’s Speech promises legislative programme to ‘seize the opportunities’ of Brexit

Queen’s Speech promises legislative programme to ‘seize the opportunities’ of Brexit

From the throne in the House of Lords chamber, Her Majesty The Queen has just announced the Government’s legislative programme for the new parliamentary session, however long it is to last. And whilst domestic priorities are covered by most of the 22 Bills announced, it was with Brexit that her speech (written of course by the Government) began:

“My Government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on 31st October. My Government intends to work towards a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation.

“My ministers will work to implement new regimes for fisheries, agriculture and trade, seizing the opportunities that arise from leaving the European Union. An immigration bill, ending free movement, will lay the foundations for a fair, modern and global immigration system. My Government remains committed to ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in, and contributed so much to, the United Kingdom, have the right to remain. The bill will include measures that reinforce this commitment. Steps will be taken to provide certainty, stability and new opportunities for the financial services and legal sectors.”

So we can therefore look forward to the following Bills being published over the coming days, weeks and months:

  • European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – to implement in domestic law any Withdrawal Agreement which may be agreed between the UK and the EU, including a transition period while the Government negotiates a Free Trade Agreement; to protect the rights of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in UK law; and to implement a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland following the removal of the backstop.
  • Agriculture Bill – to reform UK agriculture policy, replacing the current subsidy system with one based on rewarding farmers for the work they do to enhance the environment; and to support farmers and land managers to ensure a smooth and gradual transition away from the bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy.
  • Fisheries Bill – to provide the legal framework for the UK to operate as an independent coastal state after Brexit, no longer bound by the Common Fisheries Policy; to enshrine in primary legislation the powers to control access to our waters and more effectively manage our fisheries in the longer term.
  • Trade Bill – to make the most of new opportunities that come from having an independent trade policy after Brexit by rolling over trade agreements with third parties; ensuring businesses have access to procurement opportunities under the Government Procurement Agreement; and protecting them from unfair trade practices or unforeseen surges in imports.
  • Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – to end free movement in UK law, ensuring the Government can deliver a new points-based immigration system from 2021; to make EU citizens arriving after January 2021 subject to the same UK immigration controls as non-EU citizens, enabling the Government to deliver a single global immigration system based on people’s skills; to clarify the immigration status of Irish citizens once the free movement migration framework is repealed, meaning they will generally not require leave to enter or remain in the UK; and to enable the Government to set new rules on access to benefits and social security co-ordination that are in the national interest.
  • Financial Services Bill – to ensure that the UK maintains its world-leading regulatory standards and remains open to international markets after we leave the EU.
  • Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill – to implement key international agreements to ensure that after Brexit we continue to have clear and effective legal rules agreed between different countries.

In a written introduction to the speech, also just published, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets out why he believes it is a speech which “delivers on my promise as Prime Minister to get this amazing country of ours moving again”. He writes:

“People are tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change… They don’t want to wait any longer to get Brexit done and to answer that clarion call of 17.4 million people in the greatest exercise of democracy in our national history. So we are going to get the gears on our national gearbox working again. Leaving the EU is a defining opportunity for us to set a new course and a new direction for our country – to do the things we have not been allowed to for decades, to tear away that bureaucratic red tape, to set our own rules and to release the talent, creativity, innovation and chutzpah that exists in every corner of our United Kingdom. Throughout this Queen’s Speech we will seize the opportunities that Brexit will bring to take back control of our borders, our money and our laws. Once again we will be in charge of our own trading policy and our fishing waters, and we will pave the way for a new points-based immigration system. And as we get Brexit done, so we will re-energise and unite our country.”

He concludes by reasserting the mission of his Government as being “nothing less than making our country the greatest place on earth – the greatest place to live, to work and to do business”.