Today’s Queen’s Speech will mostly be remembered as Prince Charles' first. His delivery was strikingly flat; it would be hard to discern what he thought of any measure as his tone remained the same throughout, as it should do. Given how much we know of Charles’s views on various issues – too much given his constitutional position – people will always be looking for clues as to his view on this or that issue.
The speech was mostly as expected. The problem for the government is that the biggest issue facing the country is the cost of living crisis, but you can’t solve that through legislation: parliament can’t just pass a bill to return inflation to its two per cent target.
There are a slew of bills to do with crime – both offline and online – and protest. This suggests that the Tories know they need to be able to pass a basic hygiene test on crime before the next election. But perhaps the most significant line in the speech was this:
‘My Government will prioritise support for the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and its institutions’.
This is code for saying that the government wants changes to the Northern Ireland protocol, and is ultimately prepared to act unilaterally to get them. How this brinksmanship plays out is one of the big political questions of the next 12 months.