Boris Johnson will on Thursday put Brexit and the NHS at the heart of the Queen’s Speech in an attempt to reassure voters he will deliver on his election promises.
Speaking to MPs and peers, the Queen will outline plans for extra NHS and social care funding, better infrastructure and tougher sentences for criminals.
Her Majesty will also announce the UK’s departure from the EU will be enshrined in law, meaning Brexit will happen by the end of 2020.
It is the second state opening ceremony in two months after the prime minister prorogued parliament before winning the general election last week.
He now has a healthy majority, meaning any laws he announces are likely to pass without difficulty.Mr Johnson will focus on delivering some of his most high-profile election promises as quickly as possible, to show voters that his government can be trusted to lead.
The speech is not understood to contain any radical departure from the party’s manifesto, which was criticised for containing little detail on policies including social care and the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Funding the NHS and extra spending for schools will be at the heart of the agenda.
Speaking to nurses at a reception in Downing Street on Wednesday, he said: “We have to invest and as you may have heard in the last few weeks, we are. We are upgrading hospitals, and building new hospitals.
“We are going to have 50,000 more nurses. We retain 19,000 who would otherwise vanish, and recruit another 31,000.
“We have 6,000 more GPs and 50 million more GP appointments over the next five years.
“We are now putting the biggest investment in the NHS in living memory. We have to keep that investment going. We have to keep supporting you.”
Other pledges expected in the Queen’s Speech include measures to reform the Mental Health Act, £1bn extra for social care every year, and measures to strengthen the union between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
a couple of people that are talking to each other: Mr Johnson has met nurses at a reception in Downing Street© Getty Mr Johnson has met nurses at a reception in Downing Street
Jon Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said the Tories faced a responsibility to “fix the crisis in the NHS which ten years of their under-funding has created”.
He added: “We will study the legislation they are putting forward but the commitments from their election manifesto fall far short of what is needed to end record waiting times and staff shortages.
“If the Conservatives’ plans to put funding increases into law is to be anything other than an empty gimmick, we would urge them to pledge the extra £6bn a year which experts say is needed to start to make up the cuts they’ve imposed for a decade, and to put the necessary funding into public health and social care.
“This government will be judged on its handling of the NHS and its ability to put right their disastrous handling of our country’s most important institution over the past decade.”