23 June 2017

The speech delivered to Parliament by the Queen this week (available at http://bit.ly/2spfRxs) was most certainly not the one that Prime Minister Theresa May envisaged when she launched the general election campaign two months ago.

Being returned with a reduced majority has meant that her Party has had to drop many of its manifesto commitments in order to free as much parliamentary time as possible for the tricky task of getting Brexit-related measures into law.

Despite having already announced that the present programme will run for two years (there will be no Queen's Speech in 2018), the Government still gave Her Majesty a much reduced list of proposals to read.

Out have gone grammar schools, foxhunting, scrapping of universal free school lunches, means-testing the winter fuel payment and proposals to end the pensions "triple lock".

As far as the business response to the Speech is concerned, however, this concentration of effort seems to be no bad thing.

The CBI agrees that Brexit should be the main focus and claims to see some warming in the Government's attitude towards involving business in the debate.

Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors (IoD), also recognised a welcome change of tone, "clearly acknowledging …the importance of including businesses in discussions about what our future looks like".

Business leaders will, he said, have been relatively heartened by the promise of a Parliament devoid of distractions and focused on delivering the most pragmatic, open and global Brexit possible.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) picked up the theme, arguing that the Government cannot achieve its stated goals without continuous and constructive engagement with business communities across the UK.

And new legislation is not everything, it reminded Ministers, calling for more effort with regard to the major infrastructure schemes that have already been agreed and announced.