The Queen is preparing to mark the State Opening of Parliament today by reading out a speech, the 62nd she will have given in person, revealing what her government’s plans for the coming year. She has read out 67,015 words in her “Queen’s Speeches” so far, and will have more to add today.
What’ll be on the agenda? “Tax cuts for millions as PM gets down to business” is our splash. “Cameron plans fast-track bill for referendum on EU membership”, says the FT. Cameron looks set to delay the thorny task of replacing the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights after a backlash from senior Tories, with the Times declaring “Cameron blinks first in human rights row”. Both the i newspaper and the Express expect boldness, with the former warning “expect a radical approach from the Tories”, and the latter declaring that the Queen will “herald an era of radical change”. Our sketchwriter Michael Deacon has also imagined what may be in Her Majesty’s address.
Still enjoying his post-election honeymoon, David Cameron has a chance to show what he can do with a Conservative majority. The last time the Queen unveiled an all-Conservative government’s programme, John Major was prime minister. Cameron knows he can set the agenda, and so he is trumpeting a “Queen’s Speech for working people” with a programme that will “bring our country together” and provide “security and opportunity for everyone at every stage of life”.
Labour will struggle to provide more than a perfunctory opposing message, as the party knows someone else will be leader by September. Acting leader Harriet Harman has ditched Labour’s opposition to the EU referendum bill, after the party’s leadership contenders supported the idea. Chuka Umunna touched upon this timidity when he told Newsnight that “there is a degree of hesitancy” in the Labour ranks over how deeply to involve itself in the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union.
Cameron’s old coalition partner Nick Clegg will respond to the Queen’s Speech on behalf of the Lib Dems, reminding voters of how his party ensured a “clear thread of liberalism” ran through the coalition. His message is best summarised by the Lib Dem MP who told the Huffington Post UK that the Tories getting a majority would be “ideal” as they would “sh*t it up something rotten” and leave voters “looking back to the halcyon days of those nice Lib Dems”.
After the Queen’s Speech, Cameron will embark on a tour of Europe to win as much support as possible for his renegotiation efforts. Once today’s formalities are over, the work will only have just begun.
WHERE DO WE GOVE FROM HERE?
The Conservatives will not be forgiven for “fudging” a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, Michael Gove has said. The Justice Secretary said that the Tories must grasp an “historic opportunity” and not allow themselves to be “steamrolled into a reluctant, strangulated and acquiescent yes” by Brussels, Matthew Holehouse reports.
Meanwhile, it was reported that France and Germany are pushing plans to introduce a minimum corporation tax rate across the continent, in a move that could result in higher taxes on British companies.
WOULD I LIE TO YOU? (ER, YES)
All politicians lie, the former Liberal Democrat deputy leader has said as he defended Alistair Carmichael’s conduct over a leaked memo, Ben Riley-Smith reports. Sir Malcolm Bruce said if every politician who twisted the truth was made to quit there would be very few politicians left in Westminster.
“Should we care that politicians lie? Yes, we most definitely should but it depends what the lie is about and why they’re doing it,” says Julia Hartley-Brewer. “But when we pretend to be shocked when a politician is honest enough to admit that all politicians lie from time to time, aren’t we the ones telling porkies…?”
Chuka Umunna and the front-bench MPs who backed his campaign have endorsed Liz Kendall to be the next Labour leader, Ben Riley-Smith reports. The shadow business secretary co-signed a statement saying Ms Kendall had been “courageous in challenging conventional wisdom” and was the best choice as leader.
Meanwhile John Mills, one of Labour’s biggest private donors, is considering funding the leadership campaign of Liz Kendall, in what would be a major boost to the Blairite wing of the party. Matthew Holehouse has more. “For Labour, Liz Kendall may not be the safe choice, but she increasingly looks like the right one,” says Rupert Myers.
Nicola Sturgeon has admitted she faces a “significant challenge” to wring concessions out of a majority Tory Government and cannot prevent David Cameron continuing with austerity, Simon Johnson reports. Speaking ahead of the Queen’s Speech, the First Minister said the SNP would continue to oppose the “scale and speed” of spending cuts proposed by Mr Cameron and argued they would slow the pace of economic recovery.
David Cameron has endorsed minicab apps such as Uber, saying he is “pro-punter”, as black cab drivers jammed up the streets of London in protest at the spread of unlicensed rivals, Matthew Holehouse reports. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the public should be able to enjoy the “choices” offered by new technology as well as the “high quality” service offered by traditional black cabs.
GOOD HEAVENS, EVANS!
Ukip’s deputy chairman Suzanne Evans has given plenty of interesting answers in a frank “Ask Me Anything” session on the reddit website, admitting that her party’s candidate selection process is broken, leaving her with the “depressing” task on going on TV to constantly defend outbursts from the party’s members. She also was asked if she’d like to be leader in the future, and teasingly replied: “Been there, tried that, something went wrong ;) ;) ;)”
LET LEN BE LEN
Britain’s top union official has insisted it was right for union leaders, such as Len McCluskey, to “try and guide their membership” in Labour’s leadership race. Speaking to BuzzFeed’s Emily Ashton, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said that the new “one member, one vote” system meant the unions have far less sway over Labour’s next leader.
A failed Labour election candidate has been sacked from his police job after taking days off sick so he could canvas for the election. Mike Sparling, 32, was confronted by his bosses with pictures of him on social media knocking on doors to try and win votes in the build-up to the poll.
THIS IS NOT JUST STEREOTYPING, THIS IS M&S STEREOTYPING…
Britain’s police force has revealed a “startling disconnect” with Muslims by suggesting no longer shopping at Marks & Spencer is an indicator of extremism, the Muslim Council of Britain has warned. Shuja Shafi, general secretary of the body, hit out at the country’s most senior Muslim policeman for making the suggestion and has written to his superior for confirmation.
Lib Dem leadership hopeful Norman Lamb has said the party should draw inspiration from Nigel Farage in order to rebuild following its crushing election defeat. Addressing party activists in a Westminster pub on Tuesday evening, Lamb said the surge in support for Ukip in just a few years should give the Lib Dems hope. HuffPostUK’s Ned Simons, who was in the audience, has more.
Northern Ireland’s faltering power-sharing Executive has lurched towards another crisis after the Assembly voted down a bid to implement welfare reforms in the region. The fall of the already long-delayed proposed legislation, prompted by Sinn Fein and SDLP opposition, leaves the stumbling administration facing a budgetary black hole estimated at around £600 million.
TOO MANY TWEETS…
@Queen_UK: Text from David Cameron: “Afternoon ma’am. Quick update on how the European negotiations are going: crap. Will keep you informed. DC (PM)”