REUTERS-LONDON- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping to reset his government on Tuesday by setting out plans aimed at winning back traditional supporters in southern England who abandoned his governing Conservatives at local elections.
Queen Elizabeth on Monday pulled out of the ceremony that marks a new parliament, and instead her son Charles is due to read out the laws which the government wants the House of Commons to approve and will pinpoint Johnson’s priorities for the coming session in 2022-2023.
Johnson’s government has already set out a few areas it wants to focus on, returning to his so-called “levelling up” agenda to tackle regional inequality that he believes scored highly with voters in a 2019 election which handed him a large majority.
Ministers will set out 38 bills, including measures to reform Britain’s education system, to revitalise its high streets, to clamp down on “guerrilla protests” and to make the City more attractive to global investors post-Brexit.
“This Queen’s Speech will get our country back on track, and I will strive – and this government will strive – night and day to deliver it,” Johnson said in a statement.
“Because in spite of everything we have been through, we are going to ensure that over the two years we have left in this parliament, we spend every second uniting and levelling up this country, exactly as we said we would.”
Buckingham Palace on Monday said that Queen Elizabeth was experiencing “episodic mobility problems” and had reluctantly decided she could not attend.
Instead, her heir, Prince Charles, will read the Queen’s Speech, with his son Prince William also in attendance.
Johnson and his government are keen to return the focus on what they call the “real issues” and turn the page on scandals after months of reports of COVID-19 lockdown-busting gatherings at the prime minister’s Downing Street office and residence.
After Johnson and his finance minister, Rishi Sunak, were both handed fines for one such gathering, Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, upped the pressure when he pledged to resign if police found he had broken the rules.
Neither Johnson or Sunak have stepped down, and Downing Street is still awaiting the results of a police investigation into other gatherings.
Last week’s local elections, which saw voters punish the Conservatives over their “party gate” and a cost-of-living crisis, has prompted some to urge Johnson to turn his focus on issues that worry traditional voters in southern England.
But with his critics falling short of the numbers needed to try to oust the prime minister, Johnson is hoping he can get his government back on track before the next election, keenly aware that he must try to tackle a growing cost-of-living crisis.
The Bank of England said last week Britain risks a double-whammy of a recession and inflation above 10%.
“We will get the country through the aftershocks of COVID-19, just as we got through COVID-19, with every ounce of ingenuity and compassion and hard work,” he will say, according to excerpts of his speech sent from his office.
“By urgently pressing on with our mission to create the high wage, high skilled jobs that will drive economic growth across our whole United Kingdom. That is the long-term, sustainable solution to ease the burden on families and businesses.”