Queen to miss UK Parliament opening, Johnson's 'last chance'
Queen Elizabeth II will miss the formal opening of Britain's Parliament on Tuesday due to "episodic mobility issues."
Queen Elizabeth II will miss the formal opening of Britain's Parliament on Tuesday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson tries to reenergize his floundering government by revealing its plans for the coming year.
The 96-year-old monarch, who typically presides over the ceremony and reads her government's legislative program from a golden throne in the House of Lords, will forgo the annual showcase on the advice of her doctors.
Buckingham Palace announced late Monday that she made the decision "reluctantly" since she still has "episodic mobility issues."
It is the latest in a series of canceled public engagements due to health issues and advanced age. Instead, her son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, will serve as head of state.
Since spending an unexpected night in the hospital last October, the Queen has been rarely seen in public and has complained of difficulty standing and working. In February, she was also diagnosed with Covid-19.
During her record-breaking 70-year reign, the Queen has only missed two state openings: in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and subsequently Prince Edward.
The announcement of her absence immediately overshadowed the start of the new legislative session.
After a string of scandals and poor local election results for his ruling Conservatives, the beleaguered Tory leader has promised 38 bills to bring his program "back on track."
The focus would be on boosting economic growth and paving the way for more "high-wage, high-skill jobs," as well as tackling the spiraling cost of living, Johnson's Downing Street office said.
What can Johnson do?
The forthcoming parliamentary session, the third of the current government, is one of Johnson's final chances to deliver on his core policy promises before the next general election in May 2024.
Johnson gained an 80-seat majority in December 2019, promising to enjoy the benefits of Brexit while addressing decades of rising regional inequality.
Despite negotiating Britain's exit from the EU with a robust trade agreement, the coronavirus outbreak disrupted his domestic agenda.
His administration was quickly engulfed by the pandemic and has since been derailed by several problems, including the "Partygate" controversy.
After police concluded that he and his staff had violated Covid-19 lockdown guidelines, Johnson became the first UK Prime Minister to be judged for disobeying the law while in office.
He is now hopeful that his legislative agenda would help him put an end to his recent difficulties, including the loss of roughly 500 councilors in England, Wales, and Scotland last week.
However, he has a tremendous challenge as the growing cost-of-living problem takes hold, accompanied by grim economic prospects.
"This Queen's Speech will get our country back on track, and I will strive... night and day to deliver it," Johnson will tell MPs.
"We are going to ensure that over the two years we have left in this parliament, we spend every second uniting and leveling up this country."
PM Boris Johnson has promised another "Brexit liberties" bill that would repeal hundreds of EU laws.
According to sources, Johnson wants to reduce regulations for small businesses and abolish environmental limitations that could prevent infrastructure projects from being built.
The Queen's Speech will also detail reforms to rejuvenate shopping streets in towns nationwide and "restore pride in local areas," as part of the government's flagship leveling up agenda.
Public order law
A public order law aims to stop protest tactics employed by organizations like Extinction Rebellion from "bringing misery to the hardworking public" by giving the security system greater options, according to Downing Street. There will also be laws governing education, housing, mental health, and railways.
One of the program's more contentious aspects could be a new bill of rights law that makes it simpler for courts to deport foreigners guilty of criminal charges.
The government was expected to introduce legislation allowing ministers to override some post-Brexit trade restrictions in Northern Ireland.
But the mooted move, sure to inflame tensions with Brussels, has reportedly been scrapped for now.