May faces new political reality with Brexit-heavy program

Britain's Queen Elizabeth stirred up social media on Wednesday when she opened parliament in a hat looking very much like a European Union flag.

Queen Elizabeth II was accompanied by Price Charles to the House of Lords after the Duke of Edinburgh was hospitalized with an infection.

His rare absence from the State Opening of Parliament added to the solemnity of an occasion cherished by the British people and replete with tradition.

A commission will be set up to stamp out "extremist ideology in all its forms, both across society and on the internet, so it is denied a safe space to spread", the Queen's Speech confirmed.

Of 24 total pieces of law, eight major bills have been proposed to deal with Brexit.

Many contentious policies, such as those on social care, means-testing winter fuel payments, and scrapping the pensions triple lock, appear to have been dropped along with plans to lift the legal ban on opening new grammar schools.

There was no mention of a planned state visit by United States president Donald Trump. May's invitation, extended with days of Trump taking office, had been sharply criticized by all parties.

Shortly after the invitation was accepted, thousands of people opposed to Trump's planned trip to Britain protested outside Downing Street while nearly 2 million people signed a petition urging May to rescind the invitation.

Following the omission on Wednesday, a senior Trump administration official told CNN: "She didn't mention (the visit) because the date is not yet set".

Tempted a big lead over the opposition Labour party in opinion polls, May had called the snap election expecting an overwhelming victory that would silence dissenters and give her a mandate to push ahead with plans to leave the European Customs Union and drastically limit immigration as Britain leaves the EU.

At a time of unprecedented political uncertainty, May is under increasing pressure to secure a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her government after almost two weeks of talks.

"The prime minister has also said that the election did not deliver the results we had hoped for and that we will reflect on the reasons for that, and will govern with humility in the national interest and I think you can see that reflected in what we put forward today".

"We will work hard every day to gain the trust and confidence of the British people, making their priorities our priorities".

Signaling the importance of Brexit negotiations with the European Union, set to continue until the spring of 2019, the speech set out the government's program for two years, rather than one.

Her authority has been badly damaged just as Britain begins Brexit negotiations.

The enfeebled premier, who is still locked in hard talks with a Northern Irish party to prop up her administration, says the programme is about seizing opportunities offered by Brexit. "That means getting a deal which delivers the result of last year's referendum and does so in a way that commands maximum public support".

  • Leroy Wright