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Saturday, 6 March 2021

The Queen unveils bolstered Boris's plan for Britain

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The Queen unveils bolstered Boris's plan for Britain
The Queen unveils bolstered Boris's plan for Britain

Queen Elizabeth formally reopened parliament on Thursday, setting out the government's legislative agenda with Brexit and the NHS the top priorities.

David Doyle reports.

Queen Elizabeth set out the British government's plans for the next five years on Thursday (December 19) following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's landslide election victory.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) THE LADY USHER OF THE BLACK ROD, SARAH CLARKE, SAYING: "Mr Speaker, the Queen commands this honorable House." And it's a legislative agenda that shows Johnson's Conservatives are keen to reward those who abandoned the opposition Labour Party - in its traditional heartlands - to vote for the Tories instead.

Echoing opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn's pre-election claim that he offered the "most radical" manifesto in decades, Johnson even called this the "most radical Queen's Speech" in a generation.

And he offered a raft of new legislation aimed at overturning the nine years of economic austerity presided over by his party.

But unsurprisingly for anyone who has dipped into British politics over the past three years, top of the list was Brexit.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITAIN'S QUEEN ELIZABETH, SAYING: "My government's priority is to deliver the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on the 31st of January." Among a host of Brexit-related legislation is a bill expected to start its passage into law on Friday (December 20) which will rule out extending a transition period beyond the end of 2020.

The other key issue of the election campaign was Britain's beloved universal healthcare system, the National Health Service.

The government will enshrine increased funding into law, resulting - it says - in an annual increase of 33.9 billion pounds by 2023-2024.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITAIN'S QUEEN ELIZABETH, SAYING: ...and a new visa will ensure qualified doctors, nurses and health professionals have fast track entry to the United Kingdom." Johnson's opponents have said his plans for Brexit risk workers rights once the UK leaves the EU, and in an apparent bid to answer those critics the government says it will pass what it's calling an 'Employment Bill' - setting up a new enforcement body to protect rights.

Legislation will also be introduced to reduce immigration of lower-skilled workers with a points based system, toughen prison sentences, and boost Britain's role as an international financial hub.


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