Rishi Sunak says that ‘binding requirements’ will be needed over AI
The last time the government introduced its legislative programme was before the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II but the then Prince Charles sat in for her while the crown was left on a cushion.
On Thursday the crown will be on the new King’s head as he formally reads out his government’s programme for the next year for the first time as monarch.
But despite all the regalia of the occasion, the heralds and tradition, eyes will be more focussed on Rishi Sunak as he gives out his first programme for government as Prime Minister and what will be the last before the next election.
It means that the contents will be crucial for his hopes of turning around the dire poll ratings which have the Conservatives 20 points behind Labour.
Somehow the Prime Minister needs a reset to take back control of the agenda and inspire the country again if he is to pull off an election miracle next year.
Hopes among his MPs are not high though.
READ MORE: Rishi Sunak warned ‘rivals are circling’ as bleak poll offers Tories no hope
1. Things to help win the next election
Really Rishi Sunak has one job now – win the next election.
The slogan since the conference may be “long term decisions for a brighter future” but in reality it is “short term decisions to ensure a future Conservative government.”
So what will be in there to help turn around that 20 point deficit?
It seems likely that there will be more attempts to roll back on net zero targets. When the Prime Minister did that recently it actually seemed to help the Conservatives.
Added to that the Uxbridge and South Ruislip election proved that voters do not like green taxes voting against Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion.
Beyond that though there seems to be little sign of anything to move the polls.
The one area will be more on tackling migrants. Much will depend on the court decision over deportations to Rwanda but the King’s speech wll see the government recommit to that scheme.
It seems unlikely Sunak will have the guts to threaten to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) but that is the one thing which might move the dial.
Do not be surprised though to see some anti-woke measures as a bit of voter red meat in protecting women in the trans debate or tackling political correctness in schools.
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1. Things to help win the next election
3. Stuff that needs to be finished
For a Parliament that was described as “the zombie parliament” because so little was going on there seems to be a lot of things left over from the last session still to sort.
This is because Mr Sunak’s government kept on backing away from legislation when threatened with rebellions.
Among the list are four bills from the last Queen’s Speech which are expected to come back.
These include the draft Media Bill and the draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law after Martyn Hett, a victim in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 which ensures that major venues need to be properly prepared for terror attacks.
In good news for Brexiteers, the legislation for entry of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will come in the next session plugging the UK into the fastest grwoing economic bloc and making return to the EU very difficult.
Legislation on renters reforms and leaseholds will be in the King’s speech to give renters more protection (now an important voting group) and end the abuse of leaseholds by property developers.
Some expect a freeze in business rates to help High Streets in particular.
One other possibility is long awaited pension reform to improve people’s retirement plans.
Finally, Sunak may be limbering up for one last fight with the Lords who rejected his plan in the recently passed Levelling Up Bill to remove nutrient neutrality rules which effects what goes into rivers but frees up businesses.
4. Things likely to provoke a Tory civil war
To be fair on Sunak, there has been a Tory civil war raging since Boris Johnson was deposed but there is a threat of measures which could fan the flames of political conflict.
Top of the list seems likely to be around the issue of a ban on gay conversion therapy.
The liberal left of his party led by Alicea Kearns see this as a totemic issue banning things like electric shock treatment and other abuses of gay people.
But it is also a totemic issue for the right of the party who point out that electric shock treatment and the like are already illegal.
They see this as an attempt to ban prayer and religious freedom and will fight it all the way.
Sunak is caught between the two and seems likely to mention it in the King’s speech but not actually enact anything as a rather unsatisfactory compromise.
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