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Johnson using Queen’s speech as cynical pre-election stunt, says Corbyn | Politics

Jeremy Corbyn will berate the prime minister for using the Queen’s speech next week as a “party political broadcast” before the expected general election.

In a speech in Northampton on Thursday, the Labour leader will condemn Boris Johnson for attempting to set out his legislative agenda despite being well short of a governing majority, and using the traditional Queen’s speech ceremony as a “cynical stunt”.

The Labour leader is expected to say: “On Monday, we will be treated to the farce of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, amid full pomp and ceremony, setting out an agenda to parliament that it has no intention or means of delivering.

“Holding a Queen’s speech before an election is a cynical stunt. Johnson is using the Queen to deliver a pre-election party political broadcast for the Conservative party.

“This government isn’t going to put any legislation before parliament. It has a majority of minus 45, a 100% record of defeat in the Commons and is seeking a general election which will end the parliamentary session the Queen is about to open.”

In the first vote Johnson faces as prime minister, 21 rebel Tory MPs vote with the opposition to seize control of the order paper to allow a debate on a bill that would block a no-deal Brexit. 

Against Johnson’s wishes, the Commons passes  by 329 votes to 300 the second reading of the European Union (withdrawal) (No 6) bill proposed by Hilary Benn.

Later the same day the Benn bill passes the third and final reading needed to become law, this time by 327 to 299 votes.

Johnson responds by attempting to force an early general election. The 298 MPs who support him are short of the two-thirds majority required by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, making it a third defeat in a single day for the government.

Dominic Grieve’s bid to force the government to release documents related to the Operation Yellowhammer no-deal planning and on the decision to prorogue parliament defeats Johnson by 311 to 302.

Johnson’s second call for an early general election is supported by 293 MPs, still short of the two-thirds majority required. Parliament is prorogued and MPs briefly occupy the chamber after the session is closed. 

The supreme court rules that Johnson’s closure of parliament was unlawful and that MPs must return.

In the first vote in the reconvened House of Commons, MPs vote by 306 to 289 against a three-day recess to allow Conservative MPs to attend their party conference.

Corbyn will also use his speech – his first since the party’s autumn conference in Brighton – to set out his own electoral agenda. Despite rejecting calls for a general election on terms pushed by the Conservatives, Corbyn is to say the party is “champing at the bit” to go to the polls – as long as a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table.

Labour has said it will not agree to an election until it could be certain that Johnson would adhere to the Benn act, which requires him to request an extension to article 50 on 19 October in case a deal cannot be reached with the EU before then.

He will say: “It wasn’t long ago that Johnson was pretending not to want an election. Now he is pretending that it’s Labour that doesn’t want one.

“So let me address this directly: prime minister, we can’t trust you not to break the law because you’ve got form. We can’t trust you not to use the period of an election campaign to drive our country off a no-deal cliff-edge that will crash our economy, destroy jobs and industries, cause shortages of medicine and food and endanger peace in Northern Ireland.

“So it’s simple: obey the law, take no deal off the table and then let’s have the election. We’re ready and champing at the bit. There’s only one reason it hasn’t happened yet – we can’t trust you.”

Various pre-announced pledges now appear to be forming the core of the party’s electoral strategy and will be highlighted by Corbyn as he suggests there could be a Labour government Queen’s speech within months.

He will say the party’s next manifesto will be the “most radical, hopeful, people-focused programme in modern times”.

A cropped Facebook advert for the Labour Party.



A cropped Facebook advert for the Labour party. Photograph: Labour Party via Facebook

A £10 an hour minimum wage, a fracking ban, ending rough sleeping, free personal care and prescriptions – which may cost up to £6bn a year and £700m a year respectively – and scrapping tuition fees, which will cost up to £8bn a year, will all be mentioned.

The spending pledges of the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, are estimated by some to cost up to £70bn – more than £20bn more than their fully costed manifesto for the 2017 snap election. Taxing higher earners and closing down loopholes are among the ways Labour has suggested paying for dramatically increased levels of public spending.

On Brexit he will reiterate Labour’s promise of giving voters another referendum on a Brexit deal.

He is set to say: “We might be just weeks away from the first Queen’s speech of a Labour government.

“And in that Queen’s speech, Labour will put forward the most radical, hopeful, people-focused programme in modern times: a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild and transform our country

“This is the real thing, not the pale imitation offered by Johnson and his Conservative party.”


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