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MPs approve Queen’s Speech despite Johnson’s election push

The Government’s programme was supported by 310 votes to 294.

The Queen gave the speech earlier in the month (Leon Neal/PA)
The Queen gave the speech earlier in the month (Leon Neal/PA)

By Richard Wheeler, Josh Thomas, George Ryan and Sophie Morris, PA Political Staff

MPs have approved the Government’s legislative programme, just minutes after Boris Johnson announced his fresh push for a general election.

The Queen’s Speech was supported by 310 votes to 294, majority 16, following six days of debate.

But with the Prime Minister angling for a snap election, it would be unlikely any of the proposed Bills would clear Parliament in time – with the Opposition labelling the Queen’s Speech a “publicity stunt”.

Liberal Democrat former minister Tom Brake asked Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to explain the purpose of the Queen’s Speech given the Government’s desire for a December 12 election.

Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “The purpose of the Queen’s Speech was to set out a legislative programme and what a triumph it has been already.

“The Queen’s Speech adopted by this House with a comfortable majority and a flagship piece of legislation already passed its second reading.

“Who would have thought that we could have succeeded so much in so short a time?”

The final day of debate saw Sajid Javid insist plans for the Government’s desired “infrastructure revolution” will be revealed within weeks as Britain bids to catch up with other countries.

The Chancellor said details of the national infrastructure strategy will be published at the Budget, which is currently slated for November 6, although could be shifted if circumstances change.

Mr Javid also said the Government’s legislative agenda puts “fiscal responsibility” at the centre of its plans, his remarks coming as MPs discussed the Queen’s Speech for the sixth and final day.

In his speech to the Commons, Mr Javid said it “isn’t good enough we’ve fallen so far behind” on infrastructure compared to other countries.

He added: “In today’s Queen’s Speech (debate) I can confirm that our national infrastructure strategy will be published at the Budget.

“That strategy will deliver better transport, faster broadband and wider mobile coverage, will level up across every region and nation of this great United Kingdom and deliver on an infrastructure revolution.

“That strategy will take great strides in one of the most important challenges for this country, and that is the decarbonisation of our economy.”

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(PA Graphics)

Opening the debate, shadow chancellor John McDonnell earlier accused Mr Johnson of being “out of touch” with the realities faced by many people in the UK and said the Government has dropped its own fiscal rules.

Mr McDonnell added: “We can’t be sure, as only yesterday, despite the Chancellor announcing the Budget and its date, other Government sources were briefing that the Budget was off.”

He also said the Queen’s Speech contained a “few cynical publicity stunt commitments”, claiming: “People know that if the economy hits the buffers again – whether through Brexit or economic mismanagement by the Tories or both – and when a choice has to be made by the Tories about who will pay, they will always protect their own, the corporations and the rich.”

He later highlighted the impact of cuts on women and said some of the most vulnerable, in particular disabled people, have been “forced to the wall as a result of the brutal implementation of the work capability assessment, other benefits, the scrapping of the independent living fund”.

Mr McDonnell earlier urged ministers to “get a grip” on adviser Dominic Cummings before “he does any more damage to our country”.

But Mr Javid replied: “I have to say, the brass neck of the shadow chancellor. No mention of the jobs boom and rising wages.

“No mention of bringing the deficit down by four-fifths. No mention of our huge investment in public services. And no support at all for this Queen’s Speech, which delivers on the people’s priorities and moves this country forward from a decade of recovery to a decade of renewal.”

Mr Javid claimed the Government has already provided sufficient impact analysis for MPs to vote on the Brexit deal.

He also told MPs: “The Queen’s Speech puts fiscal responsibility at the heart of our plans, with a clear commitment to making sure that we keep control of borrowing and debt, and I will set out our detailed plans in the Budget.”

SNP economy spokeswoman Kirsty Blackman told MPs: “I am taking the opportunity to throw down the gauntlet to all of those MPs who represent Scottish or Welsh constituencies today.

“They should all walk through the lobby with us supporting amendment H.

“Because if they do not support the rights and the desires of the people of Scotland and of the people of Wales, they will be doing a disservice to their constituents, to their constituencies, and to their countries.”

PA

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