With Tory MPs disheartened after a ‘pretty bare‘ Queen’s Speech this morning, there was much for opposition parties to feast on in this afternoon’s debate.
As tradition dictates, the Queen’s speech debate begins with light-hearted speeches from two government backbenchers. This year Caroline Spelman gave the veteran’s loyal address, while Dr Phillip Lee was picked to represent the newbies.
Spelman – a former environment secretary – didn’t manage to generate much laughter with her address. She said she was glad there were now more females in the Chamber than when she began her career in 1997 — when only 18 per cent of MPs were women.
Lee, the MP for Bracknell, did at least manage to crack a few jokes. He said he was surprised he had been asked to second the loyal address given that he is not the son of a bus driver. He went on to say that MPs from the whole House will support the government in the fight against extremism.
Jeremy Corbyn managed to make his address last a total of 42 minutes, to the upset of many of those in the chamber. In his speech, the Labour leader criticised Cameron for failing to make good on his promises. Corbyn claimed Cameron was guilty of going back on his word when it came to the Northern Powerhouse, building homes and developing a digital infrastructure.
Cameron responded by criticising Corbyn — and his ‘extraordinary shadow cabinet‘ — describing the Labour leader as a ‘proud republican who now has to call himself the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition’. However, given that Corbyn managed to survive today’s traditions relatively unscathed, Cameron will need to do better than a republican attack if he hopes to make a mark.