Brexit

Queen's Speech dominated by Brexit and terrorism as 'DUP demands £2bn from Tories'

Queen Elizabeth II reading the Queen's Speech in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London 

THE State Opening of the British Parliament has taken place with doubts continuing over whether Prime Minister Theresa May will be able to get her legislative programme through Parliament following her failure to reach agreement with the DUP on a deal to shore up her minority administration.

Sources at Westminster have told the BBC the DUP have asked for a billion pound investment in health and a similar figure for infrastructure as part of any deal with the Tories. 

The DUP is also reportedly pushing for a reduction of corporation tax and the scrapping of air passenger duty (APD).

Conservative sources said talks with the DUP were "ongoing" after the Northern Irish party warned its support cannot be "taken for granted". But First Secretary of State Damian Green acknowledged that it may not be possible to reach a deal in time for the Commons vote on the Queen's Speech package on June 29.

The party have also focused on key economic measures including a reduction of Corporation Tax and the scrapping of Air Passenger Duty.

Sources close to the talks process say the plans to scrap APD have "stirred much resistance with the Treasury". It is also understood the DUP have put forward plans for City Deals for councils in Northern Ireland which will give local authorities more economic powers.

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The DUP are also keen to see increases in defence spending and want to see Northern Irish companies benefit from extra investment.

The party have long campaigned for defence spending to be set at 2% of GDP and increased budgets for the Army, Navy and Air Force have been raised in the discussions with Number 10.

Of 27 Bills and draft bills unveiled in the Queen's Speech, eight are devoted to the complex process of withdrawal from the EU, including a Repeal Bill to overturn the 1972 Act which took Britain into the European Economic Community and separate Bills on customs, trade, immigration, fisheries, agriculture, nuclear safeguards and the international sanctions regime.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire and a string of terror attacks, the Prime Minister also announced plans for a Civil Disaster Reaction Taskforce and a new Commission for Countering Extremism, as well as a review of counter-terror strategy and the creation of an independent public advocate to act on behalf of bereaved families.

But flagship manifesto policies which find no place in the Conservative agenda included the scrapping of universal free school lunches, means-testing of the winter fuel payment, an energy price cap and the reform of social care funding which opponents branded a "dementia tax".

The Queen also made no mention of any state visit by Donald Trump, fuelling speculation that the planned trip is set to be ditched after the US President reportedly said he did not want to come to the UK if there was a risk of being greeted by protests.

An Immigration Bill to end the free movement of EU citizens and impose controls on their immigration to Britain, while remaining open to the "brightest and the best", is likely to be one of the most closely scrutinised pieces of Brexit legislation.

Theresa May has made controlling immigration her absolute priority, but with her position weakened after a disastrous General Election, apparent advocates of a "softer" Brexit such as Chancellor Philip Hammond have tried to shift focus to the economy and jobs.

Labour is committed to ending free movement, but like Mr Hammond and others on the Tory benches, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants a "jobs first" Brexit, making the Bill a potential battleground that could test the Prime Minister's minority government in House of Commons votes.

Omitted from today's Queen's Speech is Mrs May's controversial manifesto pledge to cut immigration to the "tens of thousands".

Another key piece of legislation will be the Customs Bill, with the British government committed to leaving the EU's tariff-free customs union so it is free to strike trade deals around the world.

The importance of getting the new regime right was underlined on Tuesday when Ian Howells, a key European executive at Honda, warned that withdrawal from the customs union poses a threat to the car manufacturer's British vehicle production.

The automotive industry is heavily reliant on cross-border supply chains without tariffs and will be watching the Bill closely, although the customs regime imposed by the UK after Brexit is likely to be dependent on the outcome of negotiations with Brussels over a future trade relationship.

Separately, a Trade Bill will seek to exploit the perceived advantage of leaving the customs union - the ability to strike agreements with other nations around the world.

The legislation will establish the tools for an international trading framework including an "effective trade remedies regime".

A Fisheries Bill will deliver on a clear pledge by Leave campaigners to "take back control" of British waters, with the British government promising it will ensure "UK responsibility for the access to and management of its waters" and enable the country to "set our own quotas" for fishing.

A clutch of other legislation highlights how entangled Britain is with the EU, including an Agriculture Bill that will aim to deliver on a Tory manifesto pledge to provide stability for farmers as the country leaves the Common Agricultural Policy subsidy scheme.

A Nuclear Safeguards Bill will give the Office for Nuclear Regulation powers to take on the roles and responsibilities to meet international safeguards and non-proliferation obligations as the UK leaves Euratom.

An International Sanctions Bill will allow Britain to establish its own policies on non-UN international sanctions and ensure continued compliance with international law.

All the individual pieces of legislation will be underpinned by the Repeal Bill, which will transpose all EU law into domestic law to provide certainty to individuals and businesses on leaving.

Ultimately it will allow Parliament to choose which laws the UK keeps, changes, or abandons after Brexit.

Here is an at-a-glance summary of the 27 Bills and draft Bills in the Queen's Speech:

BREXIT

:: Great Repeal Bill: to ensure a smooth and orderly transition from the European Union by replicating Brussels law into domestic law, maximising certainty for people and businesses.

:: Customs Bill: to ensure the UK has a standalone UK customs regime on leaving the EU, including the flexibility to accommodate future trade agreements.

:: Trade Bill: to put in place a legal framework to allow Britain to strike free trade deals with countries around the world while ensuring domestic businesses are protected from unfair trading practices.

:: Immigration Bill: to allow the UK to end the free movement of EU citizens into the UK but still allow the country to attract "the brightest and the best". EU nationals and family members will be "subject to relevant UK law" after Brexit.

:: Fisheries Bill: to enable the UK to "exercise responsibility" for access to fisheries and management of its waters.

:: Agriculture Bill: to deliver on the Tory manifesto pledge to provide stability to farmers as the UK leaves the EU, protect the natural environment.

:: Nuclear Safeguards Bill: to give the Office for Nuclear Regulation powers to take on the role and responsibilities to meet international safeguards and nuclear non-proliferation obligations as the UK leaves the EU and Euratom.

:: International Sanctions Bill: to establish a sovereign UK framework to impose international sanctions on a multilateral or unilateral basis, returning decision-making on non-UN sanctions to Britain and ensuring compliance with international law.

ECONOMY

:: Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill: to ensure Britain continues to be at the forefront of developing new technology in electric and automated vehicles, including measures to help improve air quality and provide charging points for electric and hydrogen chicles.

:: Space Industry Bill: create new powers to license a wide range of new commercial space flights including vertically-launched rockets, space planes, satellites, space ports and other technology.

:: High Speed 2 Phase 2A Bill: to provide the powers to build and operate the next stage of the HS2 high-speed rail line between Birmingham and Crewe.

:: Smart Meter Bill: to extend by five years powers to make changes to smart meter regulations.

:: National Insurance Contributions Bill: to legislate for National Insurance contributions (NICs) changes announced in the 2016 Budget and 2016 Autumn Statement.

MAKING A FAIRER COUNTRY

:: Travel Protection Bill: to update the financial protection scheme for holidays including the Air Travel Organisers' Licence (Atol) scheme.

:: Draft Tenants' Fees Bill: to ban landlords and agents charging "letting fees" or any payments as a condition of tenancy other than rent, a capped refundable security deposit at no more than one month's rent, a capped refundable holding deposit at no more than one week's rent and tenant default fees.

:: Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill: to establish a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner and introduce new protection and sentencing powers.

:: Civil Liability Bill: to crack down on fraudulent whiplash claims and reduce motor insurance premiums by about £35 a year.

:: Courts Bill: to reform English and Welsh courts to make them more efficient and accessible, including an end to the direct cross-examinations of domestic violence victims by their alleged perpetrators in family courts and allowing more victims to participate in trials without having to meet their alleged assailant face to face.

:: Financial Guidance and Claims Bill: to combine three financial advice bodies into one statutory body, accountable to Parliament, to provide debt advice, money guidance and pension guidance.

:: Goods Mortgage Bill: to implement recommendations from the Law Commission to update Victorian-era law on logbook loans.

MAKING A SAFER AND MORE UNITED COUNTRY

:: Armed Forces Bill: to provide service personnel with "modern, flexible" opportunities to serve their country in ways that "better suit their lifestyle aspirations and circumstances", including forms of part-time service.

:: Data Protection Bill: to ensure the UK has a 21st century data protection regime, including strengthening rights and empowering individuals to have more control over their data, including a right to be forgotten.

:: Draft Patient Safety Bill: to improve patient safety in the NHS and instil greater public confidence in the provision of healthcare services in England, including establishing the Health Service Safety Investigation Body in law to conduct independent and impartial investigations.

OTHER MEASURES

:: The legislative programme will also include three Finance Bills to implement Budget decisions, a technical Bill to ratify several "minor EU agreements" and further Bills to affect the UK's exit from the bloc.

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