Boris Johnson’s Program for Government: What to Expect
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lay out his government’s legislative priorities on Thursday, with a focus on delivering Brexit while funding health care, education and policing.
The list of bills the government intends to put to Parliament over the coming months will be read out by Queen Elizabeth II on her throne in the House of Lords. It’s likely to include all the legislation he announced in October’s Queen’s Speech -- before the general election campaign was called.
“The prime minister has been very clear on what he believes the priorities of the country are, which is the NHS, tackling violent crime, leveling up across the U.K. and getting Brexit done,” Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters on Wednesday. “I would expect the Queen’s Speech to reflect that.”
In October, Johnson outlined 26 bills he planned to bring forward -- most importantly the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (known as WAB) that seeks to deliver Brexit. The government intends to introduce that to the House of Commons on Friday. There will then be time scheduled straight after the Christmas recess to see it through the parliamentary stages necessary to pass it into law, Johnson’s office said.
So what legislation can we expect?
Johnson’s new majority of 80 means he should be able to get the WAB through Parliament in time to deliver Brexit by the current deadline of Jan. 31. But Britain’s withdrawal from the EU also requires legislative changes to be made in other areas. The Queen’s Speech in October outlined Brexit-related bills on agriculture, fisheries, trade, immigration, financial services and international law.
Johnson put the National Health Service at the core of his domestic agenda during the election campaign as he sought to annex what is traditionally the opposition Labour Party’s strong suit. He’s promised to pass a law committing to spending an extra 34 billion pounds ($45 billion) per year on health care by 2024. Bills outlined in October center on medicines and the establishment of an independent body to investigate serious health care incidents. He’s also promised to recruit more nurses, and says he wants a cross-party consensus on solving the U.K.’s social care crisis.
Policing and Security
Johnson’s plans from October include bills on sentencing, foreign offenders, serious violence, police protection, extradition and prisoners. The premier has also promised to boost police numbers.
During the election campaign, Johnson promised to put forward legislation to promote gigabit-capable broadband across the country during his first 100 days in office. Pledges from the October Queen’s Speech include bills on air traffic management, airline insolvency and to help deliver the next stage of the High Speed Rail Two (HS2) network. At the same time, the government promised to reform railways and devise a national infrastructure strategy.
Families and Individuals
This week, the government has indicated it’ll strip provisions on workers’ rights out of the WAB -- but include them in a separate employment bill that includes protections for workers. Promises from October include bills on domestic abuse, divorce, tips, pension funds and building safety standards. There was also a pledge to compensate immigrants from the Caribbean, in the so-called Windrush generation, over difficulties they faced in proving their lawful status in the U.K.
Bills can be expected on the environment, animal welfare and to redress historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland.
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