UK government sets out pandemic recovery plan in Queen’s Speech
Queen Elizabeth II introduces ministers’ legislative agenda for the coming year in a scaled-back Westminster ceremony.
PM Johnson is hoping to revive his bid to rebalance the UK as the country moves out of the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic [Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Pool via Reuters]
11 May 2021
The United Kingdom government has unveiled a legislative programme aimed at securing the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, defusing tensions that threaten the union and combatting social issues from housing to healthcare.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday promised to tackle inequality with laws planned by his administration, which were presented by Queen Elizabeth II at the ceremonial opening of the new session of Parliament.
Northern Ireland marks centenary without fanfare as crises simmer
In Wales, interest in independence simmers ahead of polls
In Northern Ireland, a ‘shift in enthusiasm’ for Irish unity
With Brexit complete, fervour for Scottish independence grows
The government hopes to pass 30 bills over the next year related to issues from creating jobs and healthcare to stripping back post-Brexit bureaucracy.
The package includes proposals to help adults access education, revamp planning laws to speed up the construction of new homes, and improve transport links across all of the UK.
There are also plans for a meeting between leaders of the UK government and the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to discuss issues caused by the pandemic.
“My government’s priority is to deliver a national recovery from the pandemic that makes the United Kingdom stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before,” the 95-year-old queen told Parliament, in the speech written by the government.
“To achieve this, my government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services.”
Tuesday’s event, which was scaled down because of the pandemic, marked the queen’s first notable public appearance since the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, last month [Eddie Mulholland/Pool via Reuters]
Johnson eyes reset
In the 18 months since Johnson’s Conservative Party was re-elected with a parliamentary majority, his agenda has been eclipsed by the pandemic, which has seen the UK suffer one of the world’s worst death tolls and undergo its deepest economic slump in three centuries.
But now, with the UK’s vaccination programme under way and the spread of the virus at low levels, Johnson hopes to revive his bid to politically and economically rebalance the UK.
Doing so would enable him to reset a premiership that has been clouded by accusations of cronyism and a muddled response to the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, as well as post-Brexit unrest in Northern Ireland and renewed calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
In an introduction to the pages of government pledges set out in the Queen’s Speech, Johnson said the pandemic had “in no way diminished the government’s ambition or appetite for change”.
“We have been given an historic opportunity to change things for the better,” he said.
Johnson’s Conservative Party holds 365 of the 650 seats in the UK Parliament’s lower chamber, House of Commons. That electoral power was underscored last week when the Conservatives dominated local elections in England.
Johnson will pursue his agenda from a position of strength, with his Conservative Party holding 365 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons [John Sibley/Reuters]
Opposition response
The opposition Labour Party claimed that Johnson’s agenda comprised policies and proposals that had already been raised, as it challenged the Conservatives to turn “rhetoric into reality”.
“The Conservatives have so far tried to hide their lack of a long-term plan by making people and places scrap over funding pots,” Labour leader Keir Starmer said in a statement.
“This piecemeal approach won’t deliver the fundamental change our country needs. Instead, we must today see meat on the bones of a proper, ambitious plan to deliver the change people across the country deserve.”
The government is also under pressure to reform adult social care, which provides in-home and nursing home services for older people.
The issue has vexed successive administrations for more than 10 years as rising costs squeeze local governments, which are required to provide care for those who cannot afford it, and leave wealthier families in fear of losing their homes as they struggle to pay care bills.
Johnson has previously claimed to have a “clear plan” to fix the social care crisis but is yet to bring forward legislation focused on the issue.
From: Inside Story
Is the break-up of the UK inevitable?
The ruling party in Scotland says it will make another bid to break from the United Kingdom.
10 May 2021
UK set for hugs, indoor dining as COVID curbs further relaxed
Restrictions to be loosened in line with government plan as vaccinations drive down cases.
10 May 2021
SNP to seek Scottish independence vote after election victory
The Scottish National Party took 64 of the 129 parliamentary seats up for grabs, just one short of an overall majority.
8 May 2021
Ireland urges UK not to block ‘Troubles’ prosecutions
Irish government ‘deeply alarmed’ over reports London is preparing to bar Troubles-era prosecutions.
6 May 2021
Uber losses widen as incentives to lure drivers hit revenues
NY Governor Cuomo faces impeachment, rising pressure to resign
USAID chief Power says Tigray rebels should exit border regions
Power plant in Turkey evacuated as wildfire closes in
Afghans chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ in defiant protests against Taliban
Dalit girl allegedly raped, killed and forcibly cremated in India
WHO calls for moratorium on COVID vaccine booster jabs
South Sudan’s Vice President Machar deposed by party
Our Channels
Our Network
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2021 Al Jazeera Media Network
You rely on Al Jazeera for truth and transparency
We understand that your online privacy is very important and consenting to our collection of some personal information takes great trust. We ask for this consent because it allows Al Jazeera to provide an experience that truly gives a voice to the voiceless.
You have the option to decline the cookies we automatically place on your browser but allowing Al Jazeera and our trusted partners to use cookies or similar technologies helps us improve our content and offerings to you. You can change your privacy preferences at any time by selecting ‘Cookie preferences’ at the bottom of your screen. To learn more, please view our Cookie Policy.
Cookie preferences