Boris Johnson – 2019 Speech on the Loyal Address

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 19 December 2019.

This is the moment to repay the trust of those who sent us here, by delivering on the people’s priorities with the most radical Queen’s Speech for a generation. If there was one resounding lesson from this election campaign, and one message that I heard in every corner of these islands, it is not just that the British people want their Government to get Brexit done, although they do, but they want to move politics on, and move the country on, by building hospitals, renewing our schools, and modernising our infrastructure, as well as making our streets safer, our environment cleaner, and our Union stronger. This Queen’s Speech, from this people’s Government, sets in motion a vast interlocking programme to unite and level up across the whole United Kingdom, and unleash the potential of all our people.

This one nation Government will enshrine in law record funding for our NHS, take back control of our borders with a wholly new immigration system, toughen our criminal justice system with longer sentences for the most dangerous offenders, double investment in basic science research, and protect our environment with a Bill so ambitious and so vast, that there is no environmentally friendly way of printing it off.

This is not a programme for one year or one Parliament; it is a blueprint for the future of Britain. Just imagine where this country could be in 10 years’ time, with trade deals across the world creating jobs across the UK, and with 40 new hospitals, great schools in every community, and the biggest transformation of our infrastructure since the Victorian age. Imagine British scientists using new gene therapies to cure the hitherto incurable, and leading the dawn of a new age of electric vehicles—not just cars, but planes—and pioneering solutions to the challenge of climate change. I do not think it vainglorious or implausible to say that a new golden age for this United Kingdom is now within reach. In spite of the scoffing, in spite of the negativity, in spite of the scepticism that you will hear from the other side, we will work flat out to deliver it.

Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech was expertly proposed by a beacon of our one nation Conservatism, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch). She is not only a football coach of great distinction who has done much to champion the female game, which will be a key part of this country’s bid for the 2030 World cup, but is so personally skilled at the game, with what has been described by her adversaries as a “take no prisoners” style, that according to The Daily Telegraph—if you cannot believe The Daily Telegraph, Mr Speaker, what can you believe?—she was once barred from playing against men to protect their egos. She has even used this Dispatch Box for an impromptu game of keepy-up, using it as a goalmouth in what was probably one of the less shocking innovations tolerated by the previous Speaker.

My hon. Friend has also done pioneering work on tackling loneliness, improving dementia care, and, as we have heard, curbing the harms inflicted by gambling and alcohol. She is so dedicated to her job that she has regularly brought her son Freddie into the Lobby, so reducing the voting age to about six months. Chatham’s great parliamentary sketch writer, Charles Dickens, would himself confirm that her speech was in the very finest traditions of this House. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

My hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford was followed with great style by my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes). When he addressed this House for the first time in 2017, he said:

“the good people of Walsall North…have had to wait 41 years to hear a maiden speech from their Member of Parliament. You can only imagine how disappointed they will be”.—[Official Report, 3 July 2017; Vol. 626, c. 978.]

My hon. Friend was being characteristically modest, but I cannot help noticing how the good people of Walsall North have taken drastic steps to avoid another maiden speech. They not only re-elected my hon. Friend, but they quintupled his majority just to be sure. As the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) pointed out, you wait years for a Queen’s Speech then along come two in short order—something my hon. Friend will appreciate, as one of the growing number of bus drivers’ children on the Conservative Benches. He was elected—

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

I know the hon. Gentleman wants to ask about buses, but I must make progress.

My hon. Friend was elected as a blue collar Conservative from a traditionally Labour seat, a path that many have just followed. Since then, as he pointed out quite rightly, he has secured funding for a new A&E department at his local hospital and a new railway station for Willenhall. I know he comes from a Labour family. In fact, I think his brother is a Labour councillor. When he first declared himself a Conservative he felt, he said, like the black sheep of the family. All I can say is I bet that if they are watching today, they will feel nothing but pride in my hon. Friend’s brilliant speech.

Let me also welcome to his place the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, a stickler, as we all know, for watching a Queen’s Speech at the right time. [Laughter.] Although I do not know what he has against coronation chicken, Mr Speaker. As our exchanges across the Dispatch Box come towards a close—alas—let me say that our personal relations have always been excellent. For all our disagreements, I have never doubted that the right hon. Gentleman’s beliefs are deeply held and his sincerity is to be admired. Certain members of his shadow Cabinet, on the other hand, are absolutely clear where the responsibility for the election result lies. The voters of the country have let his side down. They have forfeited the confidence of the Opposition and the time has come for Labour to take the only possible step: dissolve the electorate and replace it with a new one—at least, I think that is what the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) said.

For my own part, I feel a colossal sense of obligation to the electorate that I and we are humbled to serve. I say to those people who lent us their votes, however hesitantly, that this Government will now engage flat out on a programme of change for the better. Tomorrow is the day when we finally peel back the plastic wrapping, about which you have heard so much, Mr Speaker, and present our oven-ready deal. It will go into the microwave as the withdrawal agreement Bill—it works in both devices, this deal—taking back control of our money, our borders, our laws and our trade, clearing the way for an overarching programme of national renewal.

Above all, it is time to invest in the institution that gives the country its cohesion and even our national spirit—the simple and beautiful idea that whoever you are, the NHS is there for you when you fall sick. As our NHS cares for us, so we will care for the NHS, delivering the biggest cash boost in a generation, and, for the first time, this Queen’s Speech guarantees a new funding settlement in law. What will that pay for? The biggest hospital-building programme in living memory, with 40 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses—and their bursaries—6,000 more GPs and 50 million more GP appointments, and we will introduce a new NHS visa to fast-track talented staff from overseas. We will scrap those iniquitous hospital parking charges for all staff and vulnerable people, and we will guarantee dignity and fairness for everyone in their later years with a long-term and sustainable solution to social care. Indeed, I invite cross-party work on that solution, in the spirit of co-operation that I think is supported by many, many Members on both sides of the House.

While many of these measures were indeed foreshadowed in the last Queen’s Speech, fortified by our new mandate we will go even further. We will give millions of tenants greater rights over their rented homes, abolishing no-fault evictions. We will help millions of commuters whose lives are made miserable by strike action by imposing minimum service agreements.

Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

I will happily give way—if the hon. Gentleman is opposed to helping struggling commuters, I am delighted to hear from him.

Alan Brown

Earlier on, the Prime Minister used the slogan, the “people’s Parliament”, but the people of Scotland rejected his Government. If he really believes in the people, is it not right that the people of Scotland should have their say in a referendum?

The Prime Minister

I think it was Nicola Sturgeon herself who said that the referendum in 2014 was a “once in a generation” event. I do not know about you, Mr Speaker, but I feel that the Scottish Nationalist party should concentrate more on delivering on the domestic priorities of the people of Scotland and rather less on breaking up our United Kingdom.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

I believe that if I gave way to the hon. Gentleman, I would be forced to repeat the point I have just made.

We will abolish the threat of no-fault evictions, and we will take forward our plans to rejuvenate and, in many cases, to revolutionise the infrastructure of Britain, including Northern Powerhouse Rail. We will remedy the scandal that Leeds is the largest city in western Europe without light rail or a metro. We are dramatically improving local bus services, levelling up across the country to the standards set in London—at least, as they were set under a previous Mayor—and we are investing nearly £30 billion in our road network, including upgrading the A66 to be the first continuous dual carriageway across the Pennines since the 1970s.

Above all, this one nation Government will strengthen our United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—the most successful Union in history and a sacred inheritance that this Parliament will never allow anyone to rip up or rend asunder.

We will stand by one of the greatest international symbols of British courage and daring: our armed forces—the men and women who sacrifice so much to safeguard our way of life. We will protect our protectors from unfair and vexatious legal claims that undermine their morale and confidence. We will spare no effort in addressing the profound concerns of millions about the state of our criminal justice system with the first royal commission for almost 30 years, and there will be action now to impose tougher sentences on the most serious offenders.

Stephanie Peacock (Barnsley East) (Lab) rose—

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Lady wants to contest the need for tougher sentences for serious offenders, I am happy to hear her view.

Stephanie Peacock

The Queen’s Speech mentioned a sentencing Bill. Will that include provision for increasing the sentence for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life imprisonment? If not, are the Government open to accepting an amendment?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Lady makes an important and valid point. I have no doubt that she reflects the concerns of her constituents, and we will certainly be looking at what we can do to make sure that people who are guilty of dangerous driving receive the penalties they deserve. I know that the Home Secretary will have listened very carefully to what the hon. Lady has said.

We will also end the dangerous practice of early release of terrorists, but our reforms will only stand the test of time if our system of government here at Westminster meets the challenge of a new era. The steady erosion of faith in politics has poisoned our public life, so we will establish a constitution, democracy and rights commission to recommend proposals to restore trust in our institutions and our democracy. As a first step, we will repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 so that never again can we have the ludicrous spectacle of an Opposition party trying to defy the will of a majority of the House and running away from a general election. We will do everything in our power to restore devolved government in Stormont so that Northern Ireland is once again ruled by its own elected representatives.

Ian Paisley

Of course, we all look forward to devolved government being re-established in Northern Ireland fairly and equitably for all. Will the Prime Minister make good on his commitment for a golden age for all of the United Kingdom by making good on his promises for bus building and infrastructure in Northern Ireland so that we can all enjoy that golden age, and will he build a Boris bridge, not just the Boris bus?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, and he can certainly be assured of my commitment to ensuring that the beautiful buses continue to be built in Ballymena. I will do everything we can to ensure that that continues to be the case. As for his desire for a bridge to connect the two biggest isles of the British Isles, all I can say is that it is a very interesting idea. I advise him to watch this space and, indeed, to watch the space between the islands, because what he has said has not fallen on deaf ears.

When it comes to standing by our friends, whether in Northern Ireland or elsewhere, one innovation that this Queen’s Speech introduces is that we will stop public bodies taking it upon themselves to boycott goods from other countries and to develop their own pseudo-foreign policy against countries that, with nauseating frequency, turn out to be Israel.

Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC)

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

No.

The scale of our programme is matched only by the sense of responsibility that now falls on all of us who have been elected. Again, I congratulate all new Members, and a huge responsibility now falls on all of us to redeem and repay the trust of the British people. I say to the people of this country that we owe you, we know it and we will deliver. We have now the energy, the ideas, the mandate and the people and we will spare no effort in fulfilling that mandate. As we engage full tilt now in this mission of change, I am filled with invincible confidence in the ability of this nation, our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to renew itself in this generation as we have done so many times in the past. After the dither, after the delay, after the deadlock and after the paralysis and the platitudes, the time has come for change and the time has come for action, and it is action that the British people will get from this Gracious Speech, this most Gracious Speech. I commend it to the House.