Queen to outline Cameron's plans after UK poll win

27th May 2015, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives unveil their programme for government Wednesday after a surprise clear win at this month's general election which will lead to a referendum on leaving the EU.

The policy plans will be outlined in a speech scripted by Cameron's centre-right government and delivered by Queen Elizabeth II, wearing a crown and full ceremonial dress, on Westminster's grandest day.

The Queen's Speech will include a planned law for a European Union referendum by the end of 2017 and more powers for Scotland but the government is expected to pull back from controversial measures to withdraw from European human rights legislation.

Cameron, who led a coalition between 2010 and May 8 before winning enough support to govern alone, said it would show a "one nation" government providing opportunity for all.

"We have a mandate from the British people, a clear manifesto and the instruction to deliver -- and we will not waste a single moment in getting on with the task," he said, according to comments released by his Downing Street office.

His previous coalition government's austerity policies -- including £20 billion (28 billion euros, $30 billion) of cuts to welfare, which will be reduced by a further £12 billion in the next five years -- were criticised by opponents who said they harmed society's poorest.

Hundreds of people are expected to hold an anti-austerity protest outside Downing Street after the speech, while a bigger demonstration is planned in London on June 20.

"We've suffered austerity for too long. It created the longest fall in living standards since records began for the majority while the thousand richest doubled their wealth," said Sam Fairbairn, one of the organisers.

- Human rights U-turn -

The Queen's Speech will include a formal announcement of the EU referendum while legislation paving the way for it will be published Thursday, but it is not expected to include a precise date.

Cameron, who will address the House of Commons after the Queen's Speech, embarks on a whistlestop tour of European capitals including Paris, Warsaw and Berlin on Thursday and Friday as he pushes for reforms which he says are necessary before the referendum.

Some of Cameron's goals include controlling migration by making it harder for EU migrants to claim state benefits in Britain and opting out of the commitment to "ever closer union".

The speech will also feature legislation handing new powers to Scotland after it voted against independence in a referendum last year.

But Nicola Sturgeon's pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), which became the third largest group in the Commons following the election, wants the government to go further.

The SNP, which increased its number of MPs ninefold at the election, says Scotland should get more powers over taxation to bring it in line with regions like Quebec in Canada.

The Conservatives have only a narrow majority and could struggle to pass controversial legislation if they face rebellions from within their own ranks.

The Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers reported that Cameron had delayed a plan to scrap some European human rights laws, which had been expected in the Queen's Speech, due to opposition from within his own party.

It is now expected that a consultation will be announced in the speech instead.

Cameron argues that extremists and foreign criminals can manipulate the current system to resist deportation and had pledged to replace it with a "British bill of rights" while retaining core principles such as the right to a fair trial.

But a string of powerful figures in his party were opposed to the move, while many lawyers and rights groups like Amnesty International also campaigned against it.


© 2015 AFP

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