London: In a rare move, the UK government Sunday announced the cancellation of the Queen’s Speech for 2018 to give Parliament more time to push through controversial Brexit laws after Prime Minister Theresa May’s election debacle.
The speech, which is prepared by the government and read out by Queen Elizabeth II, marks the official start of parliamentary proceedings every year and sets the agenda that is to be passed by both Houses during the course of the year.
Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said the next parliamentary session was being doubled in length to two years. Announcing the scrapping of the 2018 event, Leadsom said the European Union exit legislation would begin with the “Great Repeal Bill”.
She said: “We will build the broadest possible consensus for our Brexit plans, and that means giving Parliament the maximum amount of time to scrutinise these bills by holding a two-year session of Parliament.
“It will mean we can work together to deliver a successful Brexit deal and a strong social legislative programme that delivers justice and opportunity to everyone.”
The highly unusual move would allow MPs to scrutinise “substantial amounts of legislation”, she said.
The Queen’s Speech traditionally takes place during the ceremonial State Opening of Parliament, which this year was planned for Monday and has since been postponed to Wednesday as the Conservative party stitched up its deal with the Democratic Unionist Party for support of its minority government.
The last time the Speech was cancelled was in 2011 by the then Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. That decision, the first time it had been taken since 1949, was criticised at the time by Labour as an “abuse of power” aimed solely at easing the passage of controversial legislation.
The Queen’s Speech – which lays out the laws that ministers want to pass in the coming year – is a major moment in the parliamentary diary. It is seen as a critical test for the Government and failure to win the backing of a majority of MPs is seen as a vote of no confidence.
By cancelling the 2018 Queen’s Speech, Prime Minister Theresa May removes a vote that could have bought down her Government from the diary, The Telegraph reported.
May’s gamble to call a general election three years before the Fixed Term Parliament Act would have required her to hold one backfired on June 8 when her party suffered heavy losses and lost its majority in the Commons.