Queen’s Speech unveils Boris Johnson’s hardline plans to curtail Britain’s democracy

The Canary

Boris Johnson has unveiled a Queen’s Speech with measures to toughen up criminal justice, limit parliamentary democracy and potentially weaken the scrutiny of government.

The government will look at whether the Official Secrets Act needs overhauling, which determines what protections and punishments whistleblowers are given. Whistleblowers are a critical check on power. It will also consider whether there is a case for updating the treason laws.

Work will be taken forward to repeal the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act – a move which would enable the prime minister to call an election without the consent of parliament.

The government will also set up a Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission to look at the broader aspects of the constitution.

The prime minister’s legislative programme also includes bills which will ensure the most serious violent offenders – including terrorists – serve longer prison terms.

A Royal Commission will be established to improve the “efficiency and effectiveness” of the criminal justice process, and the government will enshrine in law a commitment on the health service’s funding.

Of the 25 bills detailed in Johnson’s second Queen’s Speech in less than three months, seven are devoted to Britain’s departure from the EU – with legislation on trade, agriculture, fisheries, immigration, financial services and private international law.

The key Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) – which implements the PM’s Brexit deal – would allow the UK to leave on 31 January, and deliver an implementation period until 31 December 2020.

Addressing both Houses of Parliament, the Queen said her government’s “priority” was to take the UK out of the EU on 31 January.

She said the “integrity and prosperity” of the UK is of the “utmost importance to my government” – amid fresh calls from the SNP to grant Holyrood the power to hold a second vote on Scottish independence.

The speech confirmed plans for the “deepest review” of Britain’s security defence, and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

Led by the prime minister, it will cover the armed forces, the intelligence agencies and counter-terrorism as well as the future development of foreign policy.

Other pledges include a plan to change business rates – with a retail discount upped from one-third to 50%, and measures will be developed to provide for minimum levels of service during transport strikes, essentially removing transport workers’ ability to effectively strike.

 

The State Opening of Parliament, which follows last week’s general election, took place without some of the traditional ceremony, with the Queen arriving by car rather than carriage and wearing a mint green dress and hat rather than her robes and state crown.

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  • Show Comments
    1. I think the part about health service funding isn’t meant for front-line services, but to work its way through to enrich the privateers. Those vultures don’t want a skeleton they want meat on the bones, and that’s where I think most new money will go. Some may be emergency funds to prop up somewhere like a hospital wing, but most will surely go to preserve profitable institutions like cancer treatment.

      What remains to be seen is how people react to these vultures denying treatments to loved ones on the grounds of costs and value for money; mainly for old people who won’t live long enough, or for children who may live too long.

      I shan’t be taking out medical insurance either, because they’re the same people, the arbiters, of whether you qualify for treatment or not. I’m older working class. I won’t qualify for life.

    2. Of course, the folk in Grimsby, Barrow, Leigh, Wakefield, Rother Valley who voted Tory were not told about the coming constitutional changes. Johnson is almost certain to change boundaries and reduce the number of MPs to favour the Right. The Left’s riposte must be a mass campaign for PR. It is the only system which resists gerrymandering. Labour and the Lib Dems must go into the next election with RP as a headline policy. That will make the Tories look both out of date and unfair in resisting.
      The reform of Whitehall will almost certainly rebound on the Tories, as will the streamlining of the Cabinet. Ministers will be overburdened, frazzled and will make mistakes. The same will happen to civil servants. This policy is driven by Cummings who is not so much the “career psycopath” Cameron dubbed him, but a narcissist whose immaturity makes him impatient of whatever contradicts his will. His fantasy of himself as a cutting edge genius leads him to believe that getting everyone out of his way will lead to efficiency. It is the classic inability to recognise the power of conversation common to the regressed.
      The ID measure for voting is a deliberate attempt to make difficultly for Labour voters. It will require astute organisation by Labour people on the ground.
      Johnson’s instinct is to keep power close. He will try to tame whistle-blowers, the courts and anyone who can challenge him. His outlawing of all-out rail strikes is indicative of his anti-democratic impulses. Unions will need to respond intelligently. A work-to-rule can be very effective as can a small number of key workers who just happen to be absent on the same day, or even late. The government needs to be made to realise that official action is less of a headache than unofficial.

    3. Repealing the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 would actually remove all mechanisms for dissolving Parliament. And without dissolution there can be no general elections. Espcially when the previous provisions that enabled us to have general elections before won’t be coming back into force – they all got trashed by 2011 Act. This means this Parliament potentially continuing in perpetuity.

    4. I’m concerned about news restrictions. A Swiss research group has just published a detailed report on the media indicating global news almost entirely comes from AP and Reuters of USA or AFP of Paris. Newspapers and TV stations have let their reporters go and can no longer produce news themselves. Against this background, the Queen’s speech shows the opposition to Russia will be maintained. Britons can now expect RT and Sputnik to be attacked more comprehensively and a strong political attempt will be made to evict them from UK so the approved narrative is not disputed.

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