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Samantha Ramen

Samantha Ramen

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Queen's Speech 2019 (Take 2)

Client Alerts20/12/2019

After his election success, what does the Queen’s Speech tell us about Boris Johnson’s priorities for government?

In some ways, there was a sense of déjà vu about the Queen’s Speech this week. The obvious explanation for this was that the government, at the height of the prorogation saga, held a Queen’s Speech a little over two months ago.

In other ways, of course, this was a completely different animal. Whereas the last Queen’s Speech took place against the backdrop of scandal, uncertainty, and deadlock (with a new Prime Minister who failed to win any of his first half-dozen votes in Parliament), yesterday’s speech was performed to a triumphant Prime Minister, and one who was accompanied by a lot more Conservative MPs than before.  

It’s no understatement to say that the General Election last week redrew the political map, with areas of the country that had never voted Conservative before flocking to the party in droves and giving them an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister has been at pains ever since to tell the public that he will repay their trust, and the large swathe of promises in the Queen’s Speech on public services demonstrates that he’s aiming to prove it. He also put his campaign slogan (“Get Brexit Done”) into legislative form, with Bills proposed to get the UK into a transition period by 31 January, and out of it by no later than 31 December 2020.

Away from these headlines though, what does the speech tell us about the priorities of the new government as they relate to the insurance industry?

On the face of it, not a huge amount. Insurers may be interested in the Thomas Cook Compensation Bill, which will aim to bring forward rules on outstanding personal injury claims in the case of company insolvency, and the Renters Reform Bill, which aims to abolish the use of ‘no fault’ evictions. However, the two don’t demonstrate an overarching narrative, and progress on civil justice reform is conspicuous by its absence from the speech.

It should be noted though, that a Queen’s Speech so soon after a General Election win is predominantly an exercise in wheeling out the manifesto again, and showing that the government intends to keep its promises. In short, the event is more about the spectacle than the substance, so those of us looking for guidance on the government’s plans for the insurance industry may need to look a little further ahead.

When Parliament returns for an extended uninterrupted period in the new year, and the immediate priority of Brexit legislation is passed, we can expect the consultations, debates and questions to begin again in earnest. It will be at that point that a clearer picture is likely to emerge about the government’s plans away from the headlines.