Labour says government in 'chaos' as Damian Green confirms Queen's Speech could be delayed
Labour has accused the Conservatives of presiding over “chaos and disruption” after it emerged the Queen's Speech could be delayed.
First Secretary of State Damian Green this afternoon confirmed the opening of Parliament could be pushed back due to ongoing talks between the Conservatives and the DUP.
Theresa May has been forced to invite the Northern Irish party to cobble together a confidence and supply deal after she lost her Commons majority in last week's general election.
The Queen's Speech, when the monarch reads out the Government’s legislative agenda, was originally scheduled for 19 June. But the parliamentary timetable has been thrown into disarray by the surprise general election result last Thursday.
Theresa May is set to meet DUP leader Arlene Foster tomorrow in order to finalise the terms of an agreement between their respective parties.
Mr Green told PA today: "We are still forming the programme for government. Obviously we’re in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party to see the deal we can put together and I’m very optimistic that will happen.
"But obviously until we have that we can't agree the final details of the Queen's Speech."
The lengthy printing process for the speech to be printed on goatskin parchment paper and the Queen’s plans to attend Royal Ascot for the rest of next week have also been mooted as factors contributing to the delay.
Opposition parties greeted the possible delay with derision.
A Labour spokesman said: “Number 10’s failure to confirm the date of the Queen’s Speech shows that this government is in chaos, as it struggles to agree a backroom deal with a party with abhorrent views on LGBT and women’s rights.”
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer told Radio 4 the delay reflected a government “in denial” about its lost majority.
“I think this just shows the level of disruption and chaos that the Government is in,” the Labour MP told the World at One.
“The idea now they are not even ready to put a speech forward on Monday underlines just how much they are in denial about what happened last week.”
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon claimed the delays made the case for greater details about the negotiations between the DUP and Conservatives.
“I think it raises a very real question about whether this Prime Minister actually can put together a functioning government,” she told Sky News.
“It really does raise concerns and questions about what is being cooked up behind closed doors. One thing I’m absolutely clear about: there must be utter transparency around any deal that’s done by the Tories and the DUP.”
Brexit Secretary David Davis this morning confirmed the Conservatives were working on a programme for government that would see parts of the Tory manifesto “pruned away”.