Queen returns to public stage after death of Prince Philip
LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II outlined her government’s post-pandemic legislative agenda as she opened a new session of the UK parliament on Tuesday, in her first public appearance since the funeral of her late husband Prince Philip.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, buoyant ater his Conservative party’s triumph in local and regional elections in England last week, is vowing to deliver on his mantra to “build back beter” with a wide-ranging rat of policies.
But he faces renewed questions over the UK’S cohesion ater pro-independence forces won a majority in elections to the Scotish parliament, with pledges to hold another referendum on breaking away from the centuries-old union.
Johnson’s government, ater rolling out a successful coronavirus vaccination drive, is intent on reopening the economy and “levelling up” prosperity across Britain following its Brexit withdrawal from the European Union.
“My government’s priority is to deliver a national recovery from the pandemic that makes the United Kingdom stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before,” the 95-year-old monarch said in a speech from a gilded throne in the upper House of Lords.
Johnson said separately that countering COVID-19 remained the “number one priority” but insisted the recovery provided a “historic opportunity to change things for the beter.”
The government plans to introduce an environment bill to set legally binding emissions targets as Britain prepares to host the UN’S COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.
Meanwhile a “counter-state threats bill” is intended to provide the security services with tools to tackle hostile activity by foreign states and foreign actors.
New measures will also aim to strengthen Britain’s borders and deter “criminals who facilitate dangerous and illegal journeys,” ater rising numbers of asylum-seekers coming on boats across the Channel from France.
Tightening immigration rules and securing borders were vote-winning promises of Johnson’s Brexit campaign in 2016, as well as in securing his thumping 2019 election win.