Katy Balls Katy Balls

How long can the government put off a Queen’s speech for?

How does Theresa May plan to spend the six-month Brexit extension? Nearly one month in and there is little sign of a Brexit breakthrough. The Labour/Tory talks are ongoing yet those inside the room are pessimistic they will lead to an imminent solution. It now seems as though there won’t be much in the way of domestic legislation either.

In a lobby briefing, a Downing Street spokesman has suggested that the next Queen’s speech is to be postponed:

‘What we are focused on is the withdrawal agreement bill [WAB], because that is the legislation which is necessary in order to ratify our withdrawal from the EU. That is part of the current Queen’s speech cycle and we need to finish that work.’

A new Queen’s speech – introducing a new session of parliament and a legislative programme to go with it – had been due around June, two years on from the last one which marked a special two-year Parliamentary session. There is only one item left to complete in the current one – and that’s the big Brexit bill. No. 10 are reluctant to hold a vote on this as were MPs to reject it – as they would in the current climate – the government would have completed its programme and have to prorogue Parliament and present a new Queen’s speech. In order to avoid this, they plan to put off a vote and try and busy MPs with motherhood and apple pie legislation on issues like the environment, renting and victim support.

As I reported previously on Coffee House, a Queen’s speech is seen as a maximum point of danger for the government. Were it to be voted down the government would fall – and an election likely follow.

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