THE first Queen’s Speech of Boris Johnson’s government will be defined by the one word that Her Majesty did not specifically mention during the pomp of the State Opening of Parliament – Brexit.
Even Mr Johnson dared not include some of his more provocative language in the text of the proposed legislative programme, instead referring to an intention to leave the European Union on October 31 on good trading terms.
And while the PM tried to signify that it is business as usual with 26 Bills, many, like a desire to “bring forward proposals to reform adult social care in England”, amounted to little more than banal generalities.
The reason is this. Despite the good intentions underpinning many of the measures, like the proposed National Infrastructure Strategy and measures to combat domestic violence, political realities meant Her Majesty’s address amounted to little more than a holding operation.
Until the outcome of 11th hour Brexit talks ahead of this week’s EU summit, and then the first Saturday sitting of Parliament since the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in 1982, MPs – just like the rest of the country – are in limbo.
And then there is next week’s vote on the Queen’s Speech that has the potential to bring down the Government if Mr Johnson, now bereft of any Commons majority, is defeated.
It will be the fallout from that division which will give an early indication of Mr Johnson’s survival prospects ahead of a Budget that has been provisionally set for November 6.
Defeat in either vote would – in normal circumstances – be terminal for a prime minister. But these are unprecedented times and those whose lives and livelihoods are dependent on the passage of new laws will not forgive MPs from all parties if they allow Brexit to stand in the way of policy progress. It has already been an excuse for inaction for too long.