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Lodestone Briefing Note: The King’s Speech - Wednesday 17 July 2024

This morning, King Charles III delivered the King’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament, marking the beginning of the new parliamentary session and setting out a Labour government’s legislative agenda for the first time in over fourteen years. The Speech included the announcement of 40 new Bills – almost twice as many as the number introduced by Boris Johnson following his 2019 General Election victory.

Amidst a backdrop of (slightly) reassuring economic analysis published this morning, King Charles delivered a speech which focused on the Government’s commitment to economic growth and “creating wealth for people up and down the country”.

The Speech was the latest opportunity for the Prime Minister to present his approach to governing as a return to “stability, fiscal rules, security, fairness and opportunity for all.” There were no real surprises in its content, with legislation on planning reform, English devolution, the establishment of GB Energy, Skills England and Great British Railways, comprising the highlights - all of which formed the core of Labour’s election campaign promises.

Change was the agenda that Labour promised to the electorate during the campaign, and change was on the agenda today. The far-reaching and ambitious scale of the legislation announced this morning shows the level to which the Labour Government wants to deliver for the UK, and deliver quickly, ensuring the electorate feel the benefit of this ‘change’ well ahead of going back to the polls.

But whilst there were no surprises amongst the priorities announced, it is perhaps the legislation that didn’t make the cut which has the potential to derail Sir Keir’s relatively smooth first two weeks in office. No mention of the Government’s intention to scrap the two-child benefit cap could spark the first discipline-based crisis for the Prime Minister, with many of his MPs – newly elected and otherwise – deeply uncomfortable with the message this position sends to the Electorate.

Amidst the pomp and the fanfare, this morning provided us with an insight on the scale of ambition of our new government. But it also marks the end of the grace period enjoyed by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet – delivery starts today and so too does the – inevitable – scrutiny that has forever been twinned with power.

For a full list of the legislation announced earlier today, please see below.

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