Boris Johnson latest: Queen’s Speech to outline plans to ‘restore confidence’ in justice system

Boris Johnson is to outline plans to “restore confidence” in the justice system with the first Queen’s Speech of his tenure as Prime Minister. 

A package of 22 bills will include legislation to keep serious criminals in prison for longer, impose tougher sentences on foreign offenders who return to the UK and provide better protection for victims of domestic abuse.

They will sit alongside measures intended to invest in the NHS and strengthen environmental protections, as well as proposals to raise living standards through increasing the national living wage to £10.50 an hour.

Ministers are also preparing to rush through a bill to ratify any Brexit deal Mr Johnson is able to agree this week in Brussels in time for Britain to leave on the EU on October 31.

Monday will see the first Queen’s Speech of the PM’s tenure (PA)

“Keeping people safe is the most important role of any government, and as the party of law and order it is the Conservatives who are cracking down on crime and better protecting society,” a statement from Mr Johnson’s office setting out some details of the speech said.

The law and order package includes a bill to “drastically” increase the sentences for foreign criminals who return to the UK in breach of a deportation order, a move ministers say will help disrupt the activities of international crime gangs.

On sentencing there will be a bill to enact plans to abolish the automatic half-way release for the most serious offenders, who currently receive standard-fixed term sentences including those jailed for rape, manslaughter and grievous bodily harm.

There will be a “Helen’s Law” bill, named after 22-year-old Helen McCourt who was murdered in 1988, to deny parole to murderers who withhold information about their victims.

The Queen will deliver a speech on Monday  (PA)

While the Government will also bring back the Domestic Abuse Bill which fell as a result of Mr Johnson’s unlawful suspension of Parliament last month.

Measures on the environment, immigration, railway reforms and for mental health services will also be detailed. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We have been a soft touch on foreign criminals for too long.

“The sentence for breaching a deportation order is far too low at the moment and many criminals conclude that it’s worth trying to get back in the country when all you get is a slap on the wrist.

“Deterring foreign criminals from re-entering the country and putting those that do behind bars for longer will make our country safer.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel (Getty Images)

However, with no Commons majority, it is questionable how many of the proposed legislation ministers can get through Parliament before a general election.

Labour has dismissed the decision to hold a Queen’s Speech before the Government goes to the country as a “cynical stunt” intended to lay the ground for an election.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “This Queen’s Speech is farcical.

“It is just an uncosted wish list which the Government has no intention and no means to deliver, and nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast.”

Diane Abbott said the speech is a ‘party political broadcast’ (PA)

As well as the Queen’s Speech, UK and EU officials will resume talks on Monday with the prospects of a Brexit deal apparently finely balanced.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said “technical-level” talks over the weekend had proved “constructive”.

But in a briefing to ambassadors of the remaining EU27 in Brussels on Sunday, he said that “a lot of work remains to be done”.

Earlier Prime Minister Boris Johnson told senior ministers that while a “pathway” to a deal could still be seen, there was “still a significant amount of work to get there”.

In a Cabinet conference call, he said that they still had to be prepared to leave without a deal on October 31.

The assessments came amid reports from the Belgian capital that the chances of getting an agreement in time to be signed off by Thursday’s summit of EU leaders were looking increasingly slender.

Additional reporting by PA. 

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