Queen's Speech: 'One Nation Queen' Sets Out NHS And Academies Priorities For Divided Tories

Pomp and ceremony amid Tory civil war

18/05/2016 11:42 | Updated 18 May 2016

The Tory Government has deployed the Queen to help plough ahead with controversial plans for a seven-day NHS and forcing schools to become academies as David Cameron dubbed the monarch a “One Nation Queen”.

The priorities for a Conservative Party divided over Europe were today laid out during the Queen’s Speech, with the Government’s priorities including everything from tackling radicalism to building spaceports in Cornwall.

Writing today, the Prime Minister said: "Today the Queen delivered a One Nation Queen’s Speech from a One Nation Government."

However, the address was set against civil war in the Conservative Party over the June 23 EU referendum, with much of the legislation proposed likely to widen divides further.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who recently stood down as Work and Pensions Secretary, this morning tore into the Government for “watering down” its legislative programme in order to secure a Remain vote in the referendum.

He seized on a Sovereignty Bill, asserting the primacy of the UK Parliament and courts over the EU’s European Court of Justice, that was promised by the Prime Minister being omitted.

The speech, written in Whitehall, sees the Queen say the Government will “continue work to deliver NHS services over seven days of the week in England”, in a gesture that could provoke junior doctors.

And its plan to turn all schools into academies remains a central mission, with under-performing schools being forced to convert under the Education For All Bill, which features.

In an extraordinary section, the Queen uttered the words “Northern Powerhouse” - the Government’s derided slogan for championing the economy of northern England.

The Queen said: "To spread economic prosperity, my Government will continue the development to a Northern Powerhouse."

Elsewhere, the Human Rights Act will be controversially replaced with a British Bill of Rights - though details remain under wraps but will be "based on those set out in the European Convention on Human Rights".

Alastair Grant/AP

A Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill will provide "stronger powers to disrupt extremists and protect the public", including powers to intervene where children in "unregulated education settings" are exposed to "hate".

In the biggest shake-up of the prison system in generations, governors of six prisons will get control over budgets and daily regimes.

And the Soft Drinks Industry Levy Bill will slap a 'sugar tax' on drinks producers to tackle obesity.

Meanwhile, the Modern Transport Bill will include legislation to develop the UK's first commercial spaceports - and pioneer driverless cars as well as "bringing safe commercial and personal drone flight ... a step closer".

A hangover from the last Parliament, the Investigatory Powers Bill will bring together existing investigatory powers laws and make them "fit for the digital age".

As is now tradition, veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner quipped loudly during the State Opening of Parliament, this year offering: “Hands of the BBC.”

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