Today’s Queen Speech will be a muted affair, with Her Majesty dressing down for the opening of a Parliament which will stretch the Conservative Government to the limit. Theresa May heads into the new session with no majority, precious little political clout and the huge task of Brexit looming. Can the Tories somehow make it work?
It’s now been nearly two weeks since the general election – yet the ‘cloud of uncertainty’ still hangs in the air, says the Daily Telegraph. There’s no reason why this should be so, argues the paper, which says the Government messed up by claiming last week that a deal with the DUP was imminent. This premature announcement has turned talks into ‘a high-stakes act of political brinkmanship’. And even on the day of the Queen’s Speech, ‘there is still no certainty’ that a deal will be reached. It’s not only in talks with the DUP that confusion prevails; the Telegraph says that Philip Hammond’s commitment to the Government ‘living within its means’ is welcome – but does it goes against a PM ‘who is apparently keen to relax the purse strings’? So, as the Queen prepares to give her speech, ‘it is not coherence that reigns, but confusion’. And the Tory party looks in danger of tearing itself apart, with ‘bitterness and rancour…barely concealed’. It is the opposition who ‘stands to profit’ from this gloomy state of affairs, argues the paper. If the Tories are not careful, today’s Queen Speech could be ’the last chance this Government has to reset a sorry state of affairs’.
Some of the ‘flak’ aimed at Theresa May recently has been deserved, says the Sun. But the beleaguered Prime Minister hits the right note with her Queen’s Speech today. ‘Humility’ and ‘resolve’ – which the PM has promised to deploy – ‘are exactly the two qualities she now needs’, says the paper. It’s vital too that Tory backbenchers ‘understand what is at stake’ if they decide to stand against the Government. ‘A few rebellions and the game could be up’ – with another election possibly setting Jeremy Corbyn on course for Downing Street. To those on the Tory backbenchers plotting trouble, the Sun has a warning: ‘If they open the door to a Marxist regime they will never be forgiven.’
Protesters are planning a ‘Day of Rage’ in the capital today to coincide with the Queen’s Speech – and the Daily Mail says Jeremy Corbyn should do more to condemn those planning to take to the streets. The ’very thought of a revolutionary mob seeking to overturn an election result should horrify anyone,’ argues the paper. So why the ‘deafening silence’ from the leader of the opposition? To make matters worse, Corbyn is talking up the ‘protesters’ thirst for class war’ by saying property should re requisitioned. The leader isn’t alone though: John McDonnell might have ‘half-heartedly’ spoken out against the ‘day of rage’, but the Mail is not convinced. Instead, the Mail says, the shadow chancellor is ‘egging on union militants to topple Theresa May’. ‘During the election, Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell presented themselves as misunderstood idealists’, the Mail says: ‘How quickly the mask has slipped.’
Brexit will, inevitably, form a key part of the Queen’s Speech today. On the opposition benches though, there remains confusion about what the party stands for on the issue of Britain’s departure from the EU. Labour’s strategy ‘was to offer all things to all voters’ during the election; with hindsight ‘the Labour strategy was a successful fudge’, says the Times. Now, that ‘fudge has a way of melting in the glare of real life’ – and the ‘incoherence’ of Labour’s Brexit plan is becoming more and more obvious. With Theresa May’s majority having vanished, the opposition’s Brexit stance is more important than ever, says the Times. ‘Making a reality’ of Brexit will require a number of key bills – ‘Most if not all of these will require Labour support to pass’. So what will Labour do with its new found political clout? It has two choices, says the Times: ‘engage in wrecking tactics or to further the national interest’. The Times calls on the party to opt for the latter.