Thursday, December 2News That Matters

PM ‘will promise to end brain drain in red wall regions’ in Queen’s Speech

The prime minister will reportedly promise to bring jobs and skills to “red wall” areas so people no longer have to leave their home towns in search of prosperity.

Boris Johnson is expected to make the vow in the Queen’s speech as a gesture to the voters who helped his party to election victory over the weekend.

The Sunday Times reported that the pledge to “live local and prosper” will be a centrepiece of the speech, which will also include a “lifetime skills guarantee”, a strengthening of further education, and an adult education and training system that is “fit for the future”.

Downing Street aides see it as a way of convincing voters in what were previously Labour heartlands that the government is focused on improving their communities rather than just providing a way to get out of them, according to the newspaper.

The Queen’s Speech, on Tuesday 11 May, is when the monarch sets out the government’s legislative agenda.

Also included in the speech will be plans to tackle the backlog of people waiting for NHS treatment, something that worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has promised an extra £63bn for the NHS this year and £22bn next year but Mr Johnson is expected to say that more is likely to be needed.

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Mr Johnson will also look to bring back the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, shelved earlier this year after it sparked violent protests.

It would give police in England and Wales greater power to shut down protests deemed too noisy or disruptive.

The Environment Bill, which sets out legally-binding environmental targets ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow later this year, is also due for a mention.

It is unclear, however, whether the prime minister’s social care reforms – promised when he was elected in 2019 – will be part of the speech.

Asked last week whether social care was likely to feature, Mr Johnson said his plan for an overhaul of the sector and its funding would be brought forward in the “next few months”.

The Queen’s Speech will be a low-key affair this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

There will be less pomp and ceremony as the Queen visits the Palace of Westminster, and fewer MPs and peers in attendance than usual.

There will be a reduced royal procession into the House of Lords, from where the speech is given, and there will be no diplomatic or non-parliamentary guests.