Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: The Tories are in office but not in power

What the papers say: The Tories are in office but not in power
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This was a Queen’s Speech to fit the ‘sombre mood of the nation’, says the FT. ‘British politics is in a state of paralysis,’ and the government’s plan ‘was notable for what it lacked’, the paper says - pointing to the key manifesto pledges cast aside. It’s good news that some of these policies - such as a free vote on the hunting ban - are gone. But there's further good news, too, in the form of Theresa May’s ‘belated recognition of the complexity of the Brexit process’, the FT says. Indeed, ‘Mrs May’s monopoly over the terms of Brexit has also been broken’ - with Philip Hammond among those now speaking their mind more freely about Britain’s departure from the EU. Up until now, the PM has focused on immigration when the subject of Brexit pops up. But now the Chancellor ‘has refreshingly introduced more pressing concerns to the debate, namely prosperity and jobs’. As Brexit gets underway, the Chancellor’s priority - and his view that people didn’t vote in the referendum to make themselves poorer - ‘should become more popular’.

The Times agrees with the FT that this was a Queen’s Speech more significant for what didn’t make the final cut. But it’s not all good news that the Tory manifesto has been cast aside the paper suggests. Some policies 'will be sorely missed by the voters Theresa May hoped to help’. Take plans to ‘prise open the triple lock on state pensions’ for instance. Now that this policy has been binned, it'll mean that money ‘which might be more fairly spent elsewhere’ now won’t be. And while other ‘retreats’ - such as on the dementia tax - are no surprise, ‘there is nothing in their place’, argues the Times. This can only mean that the ‘funding crises’ these plans were designed to address are now ‘more acute than ever’.

‘British politics were radically recast on 8 June,’ says the Guardian - and consequently this was a Queen’s Speech with a difference. ‘The Conservatives are in office but not in power’ the paper argues, saying that everything about this piece of parliamentary theatre ’underlined the fragile conditionality of the new order’. The actual speech was ‘so short’, the Guardian says, that ‘Peggy Lee’s song Is That All There Is? came irresistibly to mind’. While usually the Queen’s Speech - at least when it is delivered by a government with a majority - showcases the way the party ’seeks to change the country’, this speech was more a demonstration of ‘what the whips think they can get away with to stay in office’.

The Sun says it’s ‘disheartening’ to see how much of the Tory manifesto was binned. Take ‘the energy cap’ - ‘which would have helped 17million of us paying exorbitant bills’ - or ‘the vast house-building programme we desperately need?’. The much-derided dementia tax, which was largely a 'sensible, fair proposals for rich OAPs to fund their social care’ is also no more. But despite this bonfire of the Tory manifesto, the Sun applauds Theresa May’s new found ’calm humility’. Her ‘appeal to other parties to work with her in the national interest’ is also welcome. Yet the Sun isn’t convinced this will work in reality and predicts a ‘fat chance of unity’. ‘Mrs May has a mountain to climb’ to ensure Brexit goes ahead; and, in the words of the Sun, the PM also has her work cut out keeping ‘Marxists away from power’.