Mr Speaker, this Queen’s Speech is about recognising and grasping the opportunities for every community in our country to benefit as we leave the European Union.
It is about delivering the will of the British people with a Brexit deal that works for all parts of our United Kingdom and that commands the greatest possible public support.
It is about building a new, deep and special partnership with our European friends and neighbours – because we are leaving the European Union but we are not leaving Europe.
And it is about seizing this moment of national change to deliver a plan for a stronger, fairer Britain by strengthening our economy, tackling injustice and promoting opportunity and aspiration for all.
Because as I have said many times before, the referendum vote was not just a vote to leave the European Union, it was a profound and justified expression that our country often does not work the way it should for millions of ordinary families.
This Queen’s Speech begins to change that, by putting fairness at the heart of our agenda.
It’s about building a stronger economy - delivering a modern industrial strategy so that all parts of our country and all parts of our society share in the benefits of economic growth.
Investing in the world-leading infrastructure that can unlock growth in our economy and improve the quality of people’s lives across the whole country.
Building a fairer society, increasing the National Living Wage so that people who are on the lowest pay see their wages go up as the economy strengthens.
And also ensuring that every child has access to a good school place, creating a world-class system of technical education, so that all young people have the vital skills they need to do the jobs of the future.
Acting to make markets fairer, by tackling unfair practices wherever they are found.
Tackling the housing crisis that locks so many young people out of the housing market.
We also want to build a more secure United Kingdom, investing in our defence and national security and enhancing our leading role on the world stage.
Strengthening the social, economic and cultural bonds between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Delivering on our commitment to devolution, by working in co-operation with all the devolved administrations. And working with all the parties of Northern Ireland to support the return of devolved government.
Building a country that is stronger, fairer, safer and more secure for all our children and grandchildren: a country that works for everyone.
That is our ambition. And that is what this Queen’s Speech will help to deliver.
The first part of this Queen’s Speech is of course about Brexit. A Brexit deal that works for every part of the country and that commands the greatest possible public support.
Over 80 per cent of the electorate backed the 2 major parties – both of whom campaigned on manifestos that said we should honour the democratic decision of the British people.
So this government will respect the will of the British people and see Brexit through.
We will seek to build a wide consensus as we do this and we take bills through this house, which will include a Trade Bill, a Repeal Bill, an Immigration Bill, as have been referred to. And also bills to deal with control of access of control to our waters for fisherman and greater stability to farmers with a new build on agriculture.
If we’re going to grasp the opportunities as we leave the European Union, we are going to need a stronger economy.
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That is why it was right to take the tough decisions we did after the financial crash.
And it paid off. The deficit is down by three quarters; employment up by 2.9 million – and at the same time because of policies like our National Living Wage and taking 4 million of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether – inequality has been reduced to its lowest level in 30 years.
In this Queen’s Speech we will work towards getting the country back living within its means. We will also invest in the digital infrastructure it needs to benefit from the opportunities of new technology.
I’ve said that we will protect rights and protect people at work as we leave the European Union but what we won’t do is we won’t follow the economic prescriptions of the party opposite.
Because there is nothing fair about punitive tax rises that lead to fewer jobs, lower wages and higher prices for ordinary working families.
There is nothing fair about racking up debts for our children and grandchildren to pay.
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Mr Speaker, I want Britain to be a genuine Great Meritocracy – a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will take them.
That is about ensuring everyone plays by the same rules. It’s about ensuring every child has access to a good school place, it’s about ensuring that that right to technical education is there, and the measures in the Queen’s Speech will help with that.
But it will also help deal with some of the injustices in our society – the draft domestic violence and abuse legislation provides a statutory definition of this hideous crime and will ensure protective orders are available and victims get the justice they deserve.
This is a measure that I hope will able to command support across the whole of this house. There are many in this this House who have championed the cause of dealing with domestic abuse for many years and I hope they will be able to join us in supporting this legislation.
A more secured United Kingdom
Mr Speaker, we will also deliver a more secure United Kingdom, because of the choices we are making to prioritise our defence and national security.
Our Armed Forces Bill will give those who put their lives on the line in the service of our country the proper respect they deserve – with more security in the way they live and work.
Our commitment to renew Trident, means this country maintains its continuous at sea nuclear deterrent as the ultimate guarantee of our safety – and a Prime Minister who is prepared to use it.
And we will continue to play a leading role in international efforts to tackle mass migration and climate change, to alleviate poverty and end modern slavery.
Because, Mr Speaker, we have always looked beyond Europe to the wider world and we will continue to do so.
Mr Speaker, let me end by saying this.
This has been a difficult time for our country. I know there are many parents worried about the kind of world their children are growing up in.
I recognise that and understand it. It has been an unsettling time, which has tested the spirit of our country. But we are a resilient country. Our response to disaster and to acts of terror which take the lives of innocent people must be this: Compassion. Unity. Resolve.
For we are a great nation, and a great people. We have been through, and survived, the toughest of times before. And we thrived. Once again we can, and will, grow stronger from the challenges we face today.
The Queen’s Speech on its own will not solve every challenge our country faces. Not every problem can be solved by an Act of Parliament. But it is a step forward to building a more compassionate, more united, and more confident nation.
That is what this government will aim to achieve - and it’s what this Queen’s Speech will help deliver.
And I commend this Queen’s Speech to the House.