Boris Johnson’s government will strain police powers to prevent disruptive but peaceful protests as one of 38 new bills in the Queen’s speech on Tuesday.
In a move to reinstate measures scrapped by the House of Lords in January, the government will announce new offenses to prevent protesters from “blocking” infrastructure, extend stop-and-frisk powers, and make it illegal to obstruct transport projects.
The public order bill will aim to crush the tactics employed by protest groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil.
It will be seen as part of a plan by Johnson to boost his prime ministerial role with proposals that will appeal to core Tory supporters.
The development came as Buckingham Palace announced on Monday night that the Queen will miss the State Opening of Parliament. Instead, the Prince of Wales will read the Queen’s speech for the first time on her behalf.
In a move that will anger civil liberty groups, the new law enforcement measures will include:
New criminal offenses of locking up and being equipped to lock up others, objects or buildings, with a maximum sentence of six months in prison and an unlimited fine.
The creation of a new criminal offense of interfering with key national infrastructure such as airports, railways and printing presses, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison and an unlimited fine.
Measures to make it illegal to obstruct major transportation works, including halting construction or maintenance of projects like HS2, punishable by up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine.
The bill is expected to expand stop-and-search powers so police can seize items related to these new crimes. New preemptive “serious disruption prevention orders” will also be available to repeat offenders, according to a statement.
Home Secretary Priti Patel first announced plans to disrupt protesters’ tactics last October at the Conservative party conference. But in January, the peers rejected half a dozen government amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would have introduced the measures.
Because the amendments were introduced in the House of Lords once the bill passed the House of Commons, they could not be sent back to MPs. However, the latest plan will mean the government can rely on its majority in the Commons to force through a new law.
Commenting on the new measures, Patel said: “The Public Order Bill will give the police the powers they need to crack down on this outrageous behavior and ensure the British public can get on with their lives uninterrupted.”
The program includes seven bills aimed at removing EU regulation, covering areas from data reform to gene editing to financial services.
Other new laws are expected to try to boost economic growth across the country to address the cost-of-living crisis. The government will also try to create the conditions for more people to have high-wage and highly-skilled jobs, and to keep the public safe, according to a statement.
Announcing a “mission to accomplish,” Johnson will say: “This speech from the Queen will get our country back on track, and I will work, and this government will work, night and day to deliver it.
“Because despite everything we’ve been through, we will make sure that during the two years we have left in this parliament, we spend every second uniting and leveling this country, exactly as we said we would.”
Following Conservative concerns over the cost of living crisis, the government is expected to make announcements on its energy strategy. Other expected announcements include changes to Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit border arrangements and a replacement to the Human Rights Act.
Addressing cost-of-living challenges, Johnson is expected to say, “We will get the country through the aftershocks of Covid, just as we did during Covid, with every ounce of ingenuity, compassion and hard work.
“As we press urgently with our mission to create high-skilled, high-paying jobs that will drive economic growth across the UK.”
Buckingham Palace said in a statement that the 96-year-old Queen withdrew from the ceremony after experiencing “episodic mobility problems”.
“At Her Majesty’s request, and with the agreement of the relevant authorities, the Prince of Wales will read the Queen’s speech on Her Majesty’s behalf, with the Duke of Cambridge in attendance,” the statement said.