The Queen’s Speech this year contains 38 legislation, up from 30 the previous year, and they cover a wide range of government plans for the following session.

London: The Queen’s Speech was delivered by Prince Charles, due to Her Majesty’s episodic mobility frailty; Her Majesty’s priority will be to “grow and strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living for families”. 38 Bills were introduced to help prosper and protect democratic Britain and all her citizens.
Commentators focussed on the Brexit Freedoms Bill, and how various Bills might affect China. The National Security Bill promises “the biggest overhaul of state threats legislation for a generation” to counter the full range of evolving and diversifying state threats. Home Minister Priti Patel announced that “The Bill will make it an offence to be a covert foreign spy on our soil”. China’s efforts at subverting democracy and Russia’s novichok murders in Salisbury were referenced in the Government’s briefing notes. The Higher Education-Freedom of Speech Bill was aimed largely at Universities who henceforth will have to report foreign donations and partnerships worth over £50,000. The Modern Slavery Bill will increase the accountability of companies and other organisations to drive out modern slavery from their supply chains, companies with a turnover of £36Million+ will have to publish a report of the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. The Procurement Reform Bill is how “many politicians and activists working on China issues hope to use as a mechanism for challenging some Chinese companies in the UK, with one eye on Xinjiang; it contains provisions to help buyers disqualify suppliers who are unfit to bid for public contracts because of past misconduct, corruption or poor performance. This could impact local councils when dealing with Chinese companies alleged to be complicit in human rights abuses” reports Beijing to Britain (B2B), Westminster’s weekly intelligence briefing mapping UK-China relations. The Data Reform Bill is still under wraps, the population awaits how government, AI and businesses will use and profit from their data.
Hot on the heels of COP26 is the Energy Security Strategy supporting green and renewable energy strategies which B2B anticipates could “open up some fascinating collaborations between British and Chinese hydrogen firms.” The Economic Crime and Transparency Bill targets Russia with a crackdown on kleptocrats, criminals and terrorists who have abused UK’s open economy, eliminating dirty money this bill aims to revive the UK’s reputation as a place where legitimate businesses can grow. The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill will improve cyber resilience and digital connectivity for individuals, businesses and organisations across the UK, ensuring that smartphones and televisions and other products are more secure against cyber-attacks; manufacturers, importers and distributors of smart devices will be mandated to comply with minimum security standards.
In the Queen’s speech, there are 63 references to Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister’s introduction promises “will introduce legislation to address the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland, establishing a new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery to provide better outcomes for victims, survivors and veterans”, which should go some way to pacifying President Biden who has seen it appropriate to urge Boris Johnson not to override parts of the Protocol, specifically the Good Friday Agreement.
The European Commission vice-president Maros Séfcovic appears intransigent to UK officials when he states that renegotiation is not an option. However, the Northern Ireland Protocol text says “If the application of this Protocol leads to serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade, the Union or the United Kingdom may unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures”. Suella Braverman, UK Attorney General, has declared the EC’s position introduced a trade barrier in the Irish Sea and is fuelling civil unrest. The reality is that the Protocol was still a work in progress, but to get Brexit done and over the line on 31 January 2020 it was “agreed”, both parties must have understood there would be a time when amends were required.
The EC now have a stick to beat the UK with. The UK cannot ignore the bureaucratic problems for traders supplying goods into Northern Ireland and it is likely Johnson will introduce some domestic legislation to override and correct the issues. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP and Johnson’s ally, has said he will block the election of a speaker in the newly elected Stormont Assembly until the sea border is removed and the devolved government is stable again. The power-sharing system of government in Northern Ireland, whereby the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have equal power facilitates this. Although Sinn Féin won a historic majority of votes in the recent election, the combined Unionists still outnumber the Nationalists in the Assembly. This week former Brexit Minister Lord Frost has been lecturing at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, he referred to all the steps and efforts the UK have offered to the EU that have fallen on tin ears, he concluded that Her Majesty’s Government have no choice but to act unilaterally. Johnson will travel to Northern Ireland on Monday.
This week Johnson entered Global Britain into defence declarations with Sweden, Finland and Norway,, these will allow the UK to cooperate with Nordic partners and their armed forces and closer collaboration on new technology and intelligence gathering to reinforce northern Europe’s security in the face of renewed threats.