- Carl Court / Getty
- Theresa May set to ditch major election pledges in “slimmed down” Queen’s Speech. Grammar schools and dementia tax expected to be stripped from agenda. May’s government in disarray after failing to secure confidence and supply deal for the Queen from DUP. PM promises to “respond with humility” to failure to win a majority.
LONDON – Theresa May will be forced to unveil a slimmed down and “humble” Queen’s Speech on Wednesday after failing to secure the support of the Democratic Unionist Party for her government.
Speaking ahead of the speech, May acknowledged that the election result was “not the one I hoped for,” but she promised to “respond with humility and resolve to the message the electorate sent.”
However, in a sign of growing disarray at the top of government, May will push ahead with her Queen’s Speech, despite having failed to secure the support fof the DUP to vote for it.
Downing Street had previously signalled that a deal with the DUP was imminent.However, DUP sources told Sky News on Tuesday that negotiations with the Conservative party in order to prop up May’s minority government”haven’t proceeded in a way that DUP would have expected” adding that they had been “surprised at the [low] level of negotiating experience” in May’s negotiating team.
The channel’s Ireland correspondent David Blevins described May’s failure to win agreement from the DUP as “a quite extraordinary debacle”.
As a result May is understood to have dropped a series of major election pledges from the speech that will be unveiled by the Queen on Wednesday.
Pledges to create a wave of new grammar schools, reform social care and scrap universal free school meals at infant schools are all expected to be stripped from the speech.
The speech will instead focus on a series of less controversial polices, including plans to ban letting fees, raise the minimum wage, lower car insurance rates and reduce domestic violence.
The limited agenda is designed to allow more time to pass the mountain of Brexit-related legislation required before Britain can leave the EU.
- REUTERS/Toby Melville
Speaking ahead of the speech, May acknowledged that she had failed to achieve her aim of a majority Conservative government.
“The election result was not the one I hoped for,” she said.
“But this government will respond with humility and resolve to the message the electorate sent. We will work hard every day to gain the trust and confidence of the British people, making their priorities our priorities.”
She said her government would focus on “making a success of Brexit”.
“This Queen’s Speech is about recognising and grasping the opportunities that lie ahead for the United Kingdom as we leave the European Union. It is about delivering a Brexit deal that works for all parts of the UK while building a stronger, fairer country by strengthening our economy, tackling injustice and promoting opportunity and aspiration,”
In a sign that she could be forced to make new compromises on her Brexit position, May said that the final deal would need to be one that “commands maximum public support,” as well as one that is acceptable to “Parliament, business, [and] the devolved administrations.”
In a further signal that May acknowledges the failure of her campaign, May said her government would focus on increasing living standards and improving public services.
“The referendum vote last year was not just a vote to leave the EU though – it was a profound and justified expression that our country often does not work the way it should for millions of ordinary working families,” she will say. “That is why this legislative session will also contain a number of measures to build a stronger economy so we can improve people’s living standards and fund public services like our NHS and schools on which we all depend. The National Living Wage will be increased so that people who are on the lowest pay see their wages go up as the economy strengthens.
“We will continue to bring down the deficit so that young people don’t spend most of their working lives paying for our failure to live within our means. Work on our modern Industrial Strategy will continue to ensure all parts of the country share in economic success.” She added that she would put “ourselves at the service of millions of ordinary working people for whom we will work every day in the national interest.”
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Civil Liability Bill “This Bill will tackle the continuing high number and cost of whiplash while ensuring that full and fair compensation is paid to genuinely injured claimants. It will address the rampant compensation culture and reduce the number and cost of whiplash claims by banning offers to settle claims without the support of medical evidence and introducing a new fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries with a duration of up to 2 years. Motorists could see average savings of around £35 per year passed on through reduced insurance premiums.” Financial Guidance & Claims Bill “This Bill will help consumers by establishing a new arm’s-length Single Financial Guidance Body that will replace three existing providers of publicly funded financial guidance. This measure aims to improve the UK’s financial capability by providing a more joined-up service to help people make effective financial decisions. The Bill will also strengthen the regulation of Claims Management Companies by transferring the regulatory responsibility to the Financial Conduct Authority, and ensuring the FCA has the necessary powers to implement a robust regulatory regime, including a duty to cap fees. This will help tackle widespread malpractice across the Claims Management Companies sector, such as nuisance calls and encouragement of fraudulent claims.” Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill “This legislation will help protect victims of domestic violence and abuse and give the justice system greater guidance and clarity about the devastating impact of domestic violence and abuse on families. It will do this by establishing a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner, to stand up for victims and survivors, raise public awareness, monitor the response of statutory agencies and local authorities and hold the justice system to account in tackling domestic abuse. It will also define domestic abuse to underpin all other measures in the Bill; create a consolidated new domestic abuse civil prevention and protection order regime; and ensure that if abusive behaviour involves a child, then the court can hand down a sentence that reflects the devastating life-long impact that abuse can have on the child.” Draft Tenant’s Fees Bill “This Bill will ban landlords from charging tenants “letting fees”, to improve transparency, affordability and competition in the private rental market. It will also include measures to enforce the ban with provision for tenants to be able to recover unlawfully charged fees.”