The Queen opened parliament this morning and set out the government’s plans for new legislation in her (nearly) annual address. Next Thursday, the Commons will vote on whether they agree to the government’s proposed agenda.
This is Theresa May’s first Queen’s Speech as Prime Minister. Reports say that senior Tories expect it to be her last.
But could the Speech itself bring Mrs May down? FactCheck investigates.
Does she have the votes?
Contrary to a premature announcement from the Number 10 press office last week, the Tory-DUP deal is still up in the air – ten days after negotiations began.
The earliest a formal deal could be reached is tomorrow. But if delays continue past next Thursday’s deadline, Mrs May will need to find 10 MPs outside her own party to support her legislative agenda. They’ll probably come from the DUP – even without an official agreement – but it’ll be tight.
What would happen if she loses the vote?
It used to be the case that the government would collapse if it couldn’t get its Queen’s Speech through parliament.
But, as Professor Colin Talbot explained in our FactCheck last week on Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of being Prime Minister, the Fixed Term Parliament Act makes things more complicated.
In Professor Talbot’s view, legally speaking, losing the Queen’s Speech vote is no longer a fatal blow to the government. The only thing that forcibly removes a government from office is if MPs vote through a “motion of no confidence”.
But politically, if Mrs May can’t get through her legislative programme today, it would extremely difficult for her to continue as Prime Minister.
Her personal credibility has fallen since she failed to secure a parliamentary majority in this month’s snap election. According to YouGov, the Prime Minister is now “almost as unpopular as pre-campaign Corbyn”. Failing to get the Queen’s Speech through could only damage her reputation further.
If Theresa May fails to get the votes to pass the Queen’s Speech, it will be politically difficult for her to remain Prime Minister, although legally possible.
However, it’s unlikely that the DUP would turn their backs on her so close to a deal. So our best guess is that the Queen’s Speech will pass through the Commons and Mrs May will live to fight another day.