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Queen’s Speech: Boris Johnson tackles violent and foreign criminals with tougher sentences

Queen Elizabeth II reads the Queen's Speech in the House of Lords on Monday (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Boris Johnson put a crackdown on violent and foreign criminals at the centre of the first Queen’s Speech of his premiership on Monday.

The package of 26 bills included seven relating to crime and justice, including legislation to keep serious criminals in prison for longer, impose tougher sentences on foreign offenders who return to the UK, and provide better protection for victims of domestic abuse.

The Queen said: "New sentencing laws will see that the most serious offenders spend longer in custody to reflect better the severity of their crimes."

A Sentencing Bill will change the automatic release point from halfway to two-thirds for adult offenders serving sentences of four years or more for serious violence or sexual offences.

Mr Johnson said in a statement: “People are rightly horrified by the spate of violent crime plaguing our streets, including the sickening rise in knife-related homicides.”

These proposals came alongside measures intended to invest in the NHS, strengthen environmental protections and raise living standards through increasing the national living wage to £10.50 an hour.

The Queen was accompanied by the Prince of Wales for the speech. (Reuters)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson walked beside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the procession. (AFP/Getty)

But with no Commons majority, the government’s plans are unlikely come to fruition unless the Conservatives win a majority in a General Election.

MPs are expected to vote down the Queen’s Speech later this week – which would be the first time this has happened since 1924.

Labour has dismissed the decision to hold the speech before the government goes to the country as a "cynical stunt" intended to lay the ground for an election.

At the same time, ministers are preparing to rush through a bill to ratify any Brexit deal Mr Johnson is able to agree this week in Brussels in time for Britain to leave on the EU on 31 October.

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Ahead of the speech, Chancellor Sajid Javid announced he is planning to hold a Budget just six days after the UK's scheduled Brexit date.

Mr Javid tweeted: "On 6th November I'll deliver Britain's first Budget after Brexit and set out our plan to shape the economy and deliver our infrastructure revolution."

The House of Lords was packed for the Queen's Speech. (Reuters)

‘Soft touch on foreign criminals’

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "We have been a soft touch on foreign criminals for too long.

"The sentence for breaching a deportation order is far too low at the moment and many criminals conclude that it's worth trying to get back in the country when all you get is a slap on the wrist.

"Deterring foreign criminals from re-entering the country and putting those that do behind bars for longer will make our country safer."

Priti Patel says Britain has been 'soft' on foreign criminals. (AFP/Getty)

‘Helen’s Law’

On sentencing, the government put forward a bill to enact plans to abolish the automatic halfway release for the most serious offenders who currently receive standard-fixed term sentences including those jailed for rape, manslaughter and grievous bodily harm.

There will be a "Helen's Law" bill, named after Helen McCourt, who was murdered in 1988 at the age of 22, to deny parole to murderers who withhold information about their victims.

The government will also bring back the Domestic Abuse Bill, which was dropped as a result of Mr Johnson's unlawful suspension of Parliament last month.