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Conservative manifesto pledges absent from ‘Brexit Queen’s speech’

Wednesday 21 June 2017

THERESA May’s Queen’s speech shows a wounded Prime Minister operating on the backfoot, writes a University of Salford politics expert.

Writing in The Conversation, Politics and Political Theory Lecturer Dr Ben Williams says many of the Conservative Party’s key manifesto pledges are notably absent from the speech, which focuses primarily on the Brexit negotiations beginning this week.

He says that, while she called a snap General Election in order to increase her majority and secure an electoral mandate, this intention was not realised on June 8 and with her grip on the premiership under increasing scrutiny from disgruntled backbenchers, she now stands before Parliament as a much-weakened figure.

He writes: “With her electoral gamble having so spectacularly backfired, the content of May’s legislative offering is now notably reduced in its ambition and scope.

“Much of the original offering from the Conservative manifesto has been stripped away – from social care funding reforms to grammar schools. Some have gone as far as suggesting that a ‘zombie Parliament’ lies ahead, in which no significant legislation is passed before a new election takes place.”

He notes that controversial proposals to abolish free infant school meals and for a free vote on foxhunting have also now vanished, while proposals for social care and energy price reform appear to have been put on hold.

However, he points out that the all-encompassing issue of Brexit was the dominant theme of this Queen’s speech, with eight of the 24 legislative bills relating to the UK’s exit from the EU.

He writes: “Overall, there is no doubt that Brexit is the prevailing issue of the months and even years ahead, and this is reflected in the 2017 Queen’s speech.

“It was the issue that Theresa May hoped would swing the 2017 general election convincingly in the Conservatives’ favour, but voters instead seemed to focus on growing concerns over public services and the associated funding questions that have arisen over recent years.

“While there is no clear solution to such concerns in these Parliamentary proposals, such public discontent could certainly grow as Brexit negotiations progress. It’s therefore somewhat alarming that the Queen’s speech so starkly illustrates the plight of a wounded prime minister about to preside over Britain’s departure from the EU, with her newly exposed domestic flank leaving both her and the country in a more vulnerable position than ever abroad.”

Read the article in full here.