Good morning. Today it’s the Queen’s speech, setting out the government’s legislative agenda for the next year. To a large extent it’s a ceremonial occasion – the Queen turns up, of course (although social distancing means the flummery will be toned down a bit this year) and the debate in the Commons is expected to feature a lot of jokes – but it also allows the prime minister to highlight his priorities for the year ahead. The speech itself rarely contains any surprises (legislation does not appear out of nowhere, and so the bills have almost always been previewed) and it may not even be a very good guide to what will actually happen (there was no Coronavirus Act in the last Queen’s speech). But, still, it’s a moment to take stock.
Here is our overnight preview.
And, on the subject of taking stock, the Institute for Government has published a report today (pdf) on how well the government is doing in terms of keeping its manifesto promises. The verdict is mixed.
It says that, out of 287 manifesto commitments, the government has completed or is in track with around half of them. And on another quarter it is making progress.
But the report also says that the government will struggle to fulfil some of its key pledges. It says:
Overall, the numbers paint a positive picture, with nearly half of the government’s manifesto commitments completed or on track. But there are six key policy areas where sizeable, difficult work remains: NHS and social care, ‘levelling up’, net zero, devolution, tax and fiscal strategy, and the constitution …
These numbers do not give the full picture. Many of the pledges the government has already completed involved spending, conducting reviews or promises not to do things – many that remain will require more concerted action. Precious little progress has been made, for example, on finding a funding solution for social care – an aim left unrealised by successive governments, and one that this government appears set to push back again. Elsewhere, ahead of the COP26 UN climate summit in November, which the UK is hosting, much is to be done to bring the country on track to meet its own carbon emission targets. And with independence remaining on the agenda in Scotland, talk of a border poll in Northern Ireland and growing support for independence in Wales, its quest to “bind together the whole of the United Kingdom” will be harder than simply replacing EU grants to the devolved nations. In all, there are 55 pledges the government has yet to tackle, 15 deemed at risk of failure, one delayed and four it has abandoned.
The four manifesto promises that have been abandoned, according to the IfG, are: maintaining aid spending at 0.7% of national income; reducing the national debt over the course of the parliament; introducing full fibre and gigabit broadband for the whole of the UK by 2025; and publishing an English devolution white paper by 2020.
Here is the agenda for the day.
11.25am: The Queen’s delivers the Queen’s speech at the state opening of parliament.
12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, holds a coronavirus briefing.
Lunchtime: Downing Street is due to hold its daily lobby briefing.
2.30pm: Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson speak at the start of the debate on the Queen’s speech. But, as is traditional, the two government backbenchers will open the debate by proposing and seconding the loyal address. Shailesh Vara and Katherine Fletcher have been selected, and their speeches are primarily expected to be entertaining.
2.30pm: Johnny Mercer, who recently resigned as a defence minister over protection for veterans from prosecution, gives evidence to the Commons defence committee.
4pm: The financier Lex Greensill gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee.
4pm: Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan police, gives evidence to the Commons home affairs committee about the policing of the Sarah Everard memorial.
Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid politics recently, but today the focus will be on the Queen’s speech, with coronavirus likely to get much less attention. For more Covid coverage, do read our global live blog.
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