Boris Johnson vows to end EU free movement as Queen’s Speech sets out election pitch
Boris Johnson has promised a new law to bring freedom of movement to an end after Brexit, in a Queen’s Speech packed with pre-election pledges.
The Prime Minister vowed to axe the key EU principle in favour of a “fair, modern and global immigration system” as the Queen unveiled a new ‘Immigration and Social-Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal Bill)’.
The pledge came as part of the State Opening of Parliament, which saw the Government spell out plans for 28 bills, including a heavy focus on law and order.
The new Immigration Bill will see EU citizens who arrive in the UK after January 2021 subject to the same controls as those from the rest of the world, with ministers saying it would allow for a “single global immigration system based on people’s skills” to come into force.
The bill will also spell out that Irish citizens “will generally not require leave to enter or remain in the UK” once freedom of movement comes to an end.
And it will hand the UK government powers to set post-Brexit rules on migrants’ access to benefits and public services “in the national interest”.
The Queen’s Speech - which comes ahead of a widely-expected general election later this year - also featured a raft of hardline justice policies, with a major sentencing shake-up and plans to boost protections for police officers featuring promimently.
A new ‘Sentencing Bill’ will, the Government says, ensure “serious violent and sexual offenders who receive custodial sentences will spend more of their sentence in prison and are properly rehabilitated”.
Under the plans, those serving sentences of four years or more for serious violent or sexual offences will not be eligible for release until they have served at least two-thirds of their sentence - a sharp increase on the current rules which mean such offenders can be released after half a sentence has been served.
A separate sentencing bill will also bring in a new device called a “clean sweep”, which will let judges apply the new code to all sentencing decisions - even where an offence took place in the past.
The Queen’s Speech meanwhile saw a fresh pledge to ensure the legal system “recognises the pain to victims and their families” caused by offenders who failing to provide information about their crimes.
A new ‘Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill’ will force the Parole Board to take into account whether offenders convicted of muder, manslaughter or taking indecent photos of children have caused “additional distress” to victims by witholding key information.
Meanwhile a new ‘Police Protections Bill’ promises to acknowledge the “bravery, commitment and sacrifices of police officers” by bringing in a new “police covenant”, mirroring a series of protections afforded to members of the armed forces.
Under the bill, the Home Office would be expected to set out a report every year detailing what it is doing to enforce the new covenant, which comes in the wake of the high profile killing of on-duty officer Andrew Harper earliert his year.
Special constables - who are generally unpaid - will also be allowed to join the Police Federation, effectively the officers’ union, for the first time, in a move ministers said would bolster the legal help available to them in disciplinary cases.