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The Queens Speech

December 19, 2019 6:35 PM

If anybody was in any doubt what a majority Boris Johnson government will mean, then yesterday's Queen's Speech must surely have dispelled their illusions.

As the Guardian reports, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/19/queens-speech-nhs-funding-and-terrorist-sentencing-at-centre-of-plans the new Brexit Bill has stripped out protections for workers' rights, watered down a commitment to take unaccompanied refugee children from Europe, and removed parliament's say on the future relationship. It also inserted a ban on the government extending the Brexit transition period beyond the end of 2020.

That last clause alone gives rise to serious concern. It means that any trade deal with Europe can only be an intermediate or incomplete one and makes it more likely that we will eventually crash out without having sorted out key issues. It is little wonder that the pound fell again on the markets.

The Tories laud the negotiating skills of Boris Johnson but the deal he delivered was only possible because he abandoned some of Theresa May's red lines and handed the EU a better settlement than they had hoped for. That is why the DUP walked. Maybe we should call it 'Johnson's surrender deal.'

And then there is the so-called radical" domestic agenda, which, will include a new Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission, to examine "how our democracy operates". This has naturally caused concern that Johnson will seek to change the UK's constitutional arrangements in the Tories' favour.

There has been speculation that he could give politicians the power to appoint judges, as in the US, following Johnson's loss in the supreme court this autumn, and of course there is the proposal to insist that voters produce identification at polling stations in a move that can only be interpreted as voter-suppression, US style, in the Tories' favour.

The Queen's speech also announced plans to ditch the Fixed-term Parliaments Act early next year, which gives the government licence to call an election at a time of its choosing, possibly as late as December 2024.

And any hope that we can retain a healthy interaction with our European friends was dashed with proposals to bring in a new immigration bill to make EU citizens "subject to the same UK immigration controls as non-EU citizens", thus ending free movement, and introducing an Australian-style points-based entry system.

This is a Queen's Speech that will curtail many of our rights as citizens, persecute some of our fellow workers because they come from another part of Europe and hasten our isolation from the rest of the world, with possible severe economic consequences. Welcome to Boris Johnson's Britain.