LONDON – Brexit was the main topic of a speech delivered by the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II on Monday as she set out the priorities of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.
“My Government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on October 31,” the Queen said as she opened her speech to the lower and upper houses of Parliament – the Commons and the Lords.
The Queen said an immigration bill would end the EU freedom of movement currently in place and a “fair, modern and global” system would replace it.
“My Government remains committed to ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in, and contributed so much to, the United Kingdom, have the right to remain,” she said.
The monarch spoke about health care, saying the government would bring in measures to strengthen the country’s NHS so it can deliver the “highest quality care.”
She touched on education, saying that ministers would be working to ensure that young people “have access to an excellent education, unlocking their full potential and preparing them for the world of work.”
The Queen said the government would aim to bolster its “scientific capability and space technology,” something that would involve investing in the sector.
The head of state spoke about how the government would make an effort to protect the planet for future generations: “For the first time, environmental principles will be enshrined in law.”
She said measures would be brought in that would help improve air and water quality, as well as “tackle plastic pollution” and “restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive.”
The Queen said the government would continue to be a committed member of NATO, spending “at least two percent of the national income on defense” before she returned to the pressing topic of Brexit.
“As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, my Government will ensure that it continues to play a leading role in global affairs, defending its interests and promoting its values.”
The UK is set to leave the EU at the end of the month, with negotiators from both sides currently in talks in Brussels in a bid to reach a new deal on the country’s terms of departure.
The Queen’s Speech takes place once a year and sees the monarch setting out the UK government’s priorities for its upcoming legislature.