Queen's Speech opens new session of UK Parliament amid Brexit deadlock

By Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 12:57 p.m. ET, December 30, 2019
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11:04 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

The Queen's Speech is in the books. Now the real drama begins.

Boris Johnson has wrapped up his speech, and the House of Commons has begun days' worth of debate over his Queen's Speech.

But it's hard to ignore the reality that this legislative agenda will probably never see the light of day in this Parliament. Rather, it seems a precursor to an inevitable general election.

In any case, we'll know much more about the shape of British politics at the end of this monumental week.

Johnson is mandated by law to request a Brexit extension at the end of this week, unless he has agreed a deal with the EU by then. He's pledged, repeatedly, not to request Brexit -- but something has to give over the next few days.

We'll be covering all the twists and turns as Britain creeps closer to a dramatic showdown before the current deadline of October 31.

But for now, we're winding down our live coverage of the Queen's Speech. You can read a breakdown of the day here.

11:00 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

Johnson says Corbyn is conducting "Soviet-era" purges of his inner circle

Boris Johnson is responding to Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons, attacking the Labour leader over his Brexit policy.

"First he was in favor of delivering Brexit, now he wants a second referendum," Johnson says, to jeers from his benches. "His policy on cake is neither having it nor eating it."

"I fear for his political health because we can all see the Soviet-era expulsions that are taking place in his circle," Johnson adds, likening Corbyn's personnel decisions to purges by Lenin against Trotsky's associates. (Johnson, you may recall, has been partial to a purge or two himself.)

"I hope very much that in spite of some of our differences, he will support at least some of the measures in the gracious speech," Johnson goes on, calling the plan an "ambitious program to unite our country."

"Without being chauvinistic or disrespectful to anywhere else in the world, in important respects, this country is the greatest place to live in the world," he adds.

10:17 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

Corbyn calls the Queen's Speech a "farce"

Debate has begun in the House of Commons on Boris Johnson's Queen's Speech, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn savaging the Prime Minister's agenda.

"There has never been such a farce as a government with a majority of minus 45 and a 100% record of defeat in the Commons setting out a legislative agenda they know cannot be delivered in this Parliament," Corbyn says.

He adds: "We may only 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 and people-focused program in modern times, a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild and transform our country."

Repeating his party's position that there should be a second Brexit referendum after a general election, Corbyn says: "This government has had three and a half years to get Brexit done and they’ve failed. The only legitimate way to sort Brexit now is to let the people decide with the final say."

And he again urges Johnson not to break the law by refusing to request a Brexit delay later this week.

"A Withdrawal Agreement Bill was announced, but we don’t yet know if the government has done a deal," Corbyn says.

"What we are sure of is that this House has legislated against crashing out with No Deal and that the Prime Minister must comply with the law if a deal does not pass this House."

8:43 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

Corbyn's grimace goes viral

There was little said between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn as the rivals walked to the House of Lords together for the Queen's Speech.

But several users on Twitter have been sharing this rather unflattering grab of Corbyn, which appears to sum up his feelings about the PM quite accurately.

7:51 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

The Queen just delivered Boris Johnson's election pitch

From CNN's Luke McGee in Westminster

Jack Hill/Getty Images
Jack Hill/Getty Images

The pageantry might be over, but the UK’s bumper Brexit week has only just begun.

Parliament will now spend the next five days arguing about what it just heard from the Queen. There is a very good chance that Boris Johnson’s legislative agenda is dead on arrival. He leads a minority government and is 40 shorts vote of winning anything in Parliament.

The point of Johnson’s Queen’s Speech wasn’t to kick off a program of governing, but to tease Brexit-weary voters and show them what life might be like after Brexit, if only he had a majority to get on with it.

For months now, Johnson has been laying the groundwork for a general election which pitches the people versus parliamentarians. The people want Brexit done, but Parliament keeps frustrating his efforts to do so.

A working theory in British politics right now is that Johnson is hammering away at Brexit despite knowing that his efforts to do so are futile. It is a performance, that ensures voters see that he is on their side.

And it’s in this context that we should view the Queen’s Speech. Johnson went so far as dissolving parliament and having the Queen lay out his Brexit plan to lawmakers. Johnson knows full well that Parliament is more than likely to throw it back in his face. And that might be exactly what he wants.

7:58 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

Boris Johnson says Britain is "tired of gridlock"

Boris Johnson has pledged to "get this amazing country of ours moving again," in his statement on the Queen's Speech.

“People are tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change” on issues such as healthcare, crime and education, Johnson writes in the statement, which has just been published by Downing Street.

But he also refers to the elephant in the chamber -- Brexit. “They don’t want to wait any longer to get Brexit done and to answer that clarion call of 17.4 million people in the greatest exercise of democracy in our national history,” Johnson wrote.

The prime minister’s comments echo those he has made on several occasions in recent months -- but in order to secure Britain’s exit from the EU, he will need help from a Parliament in which he lacks a majority.

In that regard, Johnson is dealing with the same set of constraints Theresa May tried and failed to overcome -- and he even takes a phrase out of his predecessor’s lexicon, stressing that Brexit will help Britain “take back control of our borders, our money, and our laws.”

“We are going to get the gears on our national gearbox working away,” Johnson says, calling Brexit a “defining opportunity for us to set a new course and a new direction for our country” and indicating legislation on Britain’s trade, fishing and immigration policies.

7:42 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

Watch the Queen set out Boris Johnson's Brexit agenda

The very first topic tackled in the Queen's Speech -- and, in reality, the only important one right now -- was Brexit.

The Queen repeated Boris Johnson's pledge to leave the European Union on October 31 -- but whether that is possible will become clear in the coming days.

Watch the key part of her speech below.

7:20 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

Here's what opposition lawmakers are saying about the Queen's Speech

MPs are reacting to the Queen's Speech, with several on opposing benches criticizing Boris Johnson for using the process to set out what essentially amounts to an election manifesto.

Ian Blackford, the SNP's leader in Westminster, said the speech was "heavy on law & order from a Prime Minister willing to break the law" -- referring to Johnson's public reluctance to request a Brexit delay later this week, despite him being mandated to by law if he cannot pass a withdrawal agreement.

Labour's shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said Johnson pledged to end freedom of movement "without any serious alternative to replace it."

Lib Dem and former Labour MP Luciana Berger said the speech was "embarrassing."

And Green Party MP Caroline Lucas attack Johnson for not giving enough attention to the climate emergency in his agenda.

7:03 a.m. ET, October 14, 2019

Lawmakers return to House of Commons

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn walk to the House of Lords.
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn walk to the House of Lords. TOBY MELVILLE/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

MPs are filing back into the House of Commons, where they will spend days debating the contents of Boris Johnson's Queen's Speech.

There is plenty in there to discuss -- including bills on important issues such as domestic abuse, pensions, healthcare, the environment and animal welfare.

Several bills were also dedicated to criminal justice, as Johnson continues to make law and order a central plank of his pitch to the public.

But it's fairly unlikely that any of these bills will see the light of day in this Parliament, thanks to the very first part of the agenda -- Brexit -- which is expected to force a general election in the coming weeks.