Wednesday 21 February 2018

The Queen's speech: What is in it and everything you need to know

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: GETTY
Theresa May leaving 10 Downing Street in London during talks with DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration. Photo: PA

Laura Hughes

Today's Queen’s Speech - which lays out the laws that ministers want to pass in the coming year - is a major moment in the UK's parliamentary diary.

It is seen as a critical test for the UK Government and failure to win the backing of a majority of MPs is seen as a vote of no confidence. 

This year's speech, which will take place at 11.30am is expected to be overshadowed by 'day of rage' protests by left wing campaigners in protest over the conditions they claim led to the Grenfell Tower blaze and the deaths of at least 79 people.

What is the Queen's speech?

The State Opening of Parliament has served as a symbolic reminder of Parliament's three parts; the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons for more than 500 years. 

The opening is officially triggered after the Queen reads out her pre-prepared speech from a Throne in the House of Lords. 

The speech is written by the Government's ministers and sets out the Prime Minister's legislative plans for the coming year.

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: GETTY
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: GETTY

It will reveal the priorities are for the coming Parliament and the new laws the ruling party hopes to pass. 

The details of the speech will be debated for a number of days in the House of Commons before it is voted on.


Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to table amendments to Theresa May's Queen's Speech in the Commons - in a bid to frustrate the Prime Minister's ability to govern.

When is it?

This year’s Queen’s Speech takes place today, Wednesday, June 21 at 11.30am.

It's later this year due to the snap general election which meant it had to be put back a couple of weeks.

The speech and ceremony always takes place in the House of Lords Chamber, although this year's will have reduced ceremonial elements because of the delay.

There will be no horse-drawn carriages - the Queen will travel to and from Parliament by car. She will also wear a regular day dress and had, instead of the usual ceremonial robes or crown.

Will there be 'Day of Rage' protests?

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Protesters close to Grenfell Tower in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building on Wednesday morning. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

This year left wing campaigners are planning a "day of rage" to coincide with the Queen’s Speech in protest over the conditions they claim led to the Grenfell Tower blaze and the deaths of at least 58 people.

Militant groups are planning to march on Parliament in a show of anger at the Government’s austerity policies they say led to the tragedy.

Led by the Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary - formed in 1995 by a number of Marxist groups - campaigners are urging protesters to "walk out of school, take the day off, call in sick, strike".

Who writes the speech? 

The Queen's speech is always written by ministers and varies in length from year to year.

It normally takes around 10 minutes for Her Majesty to deliver it. 

She is sent the words before the speech and is expected to sign it. 

This is the 63rd time she has delivered the speech, only failing to deliver it on two occasions when she was pregnant in 1959 and 1963.

What will be in it? 

May will put Brexit at the heart of the Queen’s Speech and jettison a raft of key manifesto pledges in the hope that she can remain Prime Minister for at least two years.

She will start by dropping unpopular policies on social care, winter fuel payments, free school meals, foxhunting, grammar schools and the pensions “triple lock”.

The speech is also likely to include the Great Repeal Bill - legislation that will convert all EU law into UK law.

Theresa May leaving 10 Downing Street in London during talks with DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration. Photo: PA

New laws on immigration are expected to be announced, while counter-terrorism proposals in the wake of three terror attacks this year are also likely to be included.  

Tory MPs think many of the domestic reforms outlined in their manifesto just weeks ago will be shelved because they will not get through the hung parliament. 

Mrs May's plans for a new generation of grammar schools are likely to be reduced to a "rather modest pilot" after she failed to secure a significant majority. 

She is also likely to have to abandon "poisonous" commitments such as the so-called "dementia tax", scrapping the triple lock on the rise in the state pension and means testing winter fuel payments.

Why has the next one been cancelled?

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The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Arlene Foster, and the Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds, stand on the steps of 10 Downing Street before talks with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, in central London, Britain. Photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble

Mrs May has cancelled the 2018 Queen’s Speech to smooth the path for Brexit reforms as a deal with the DUP hangs in the balance. 

The Prime Minister announced that a two-year parliamentary session will be launched tomorrow rather than the traditional one-year session. 

The step breaks with historical precedence and was last taken in the early days of the Coalition as it scrambled to create stable government in 2010. 

Government sources have insisted the move was planned before the election and would give time for laws needed for Brexit to be fully debated. 

However, opposition figures have claimed the move was an attempt to shore up Mrs May’s position after failing to win a majority.

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