King Charles to set out UK PM Sunak's plans on crime, climate before election

King Charles to set out UK PM Sunak's plans on crime, climate before election
King Charles to set out UK PM Sunak's plans on crime, climate before election

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - People look towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, where Britain's King Charles III will set out the government's forthcoming legislative plans in a speech today, in London November 6, 2023. ― Reuters pic

LONDON, Nov 7 ― King Charles will set out the government's plans on crime, climate, housing and other legislation today in what could be British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's first and last so-called King's Speech before an election next year.

Sunak will use the event, when the monarch delivers a speech listing the government's priorities for a new parliamentary session, to press on with what his team hopes will be vote-winning policies he outlined earlier this year.

Trying to create a dividing line between his governing Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party, which is way ahead in the polls, Sunak is expected to press on with watering down climate measures to reach Britain's net zero goal by 2050.

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He will also drive his agenda to crack down on crime, introducing plans to expand the use of what up until now has been the rarely used whole-life term to Britain's most serious offenders and to force criminals to face their victims in court.

“I want everyone across the country to have the pride and peace of mind that comes with knowing your community ... is safe. That is my vision of what a better Britain looks like,” Sunak said in a statement before the speech.

“We must always strive to do more, taking the right long-term decisions for the country and keeping the worst offenders locked up for longer. In the most despicable cases, these evil criminals must never be free on our streets again.

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“Life needs to mean life.”

In what will be a very political pre-election agenda, Sunak will introduce a raft of legislation such as the Sentencing Bill that means convicted murderers, who carry out sexually motivated attacks, will automatically remain in jail for the rest of their lives with no prospect of release.

The Criminal Justice Bill will make clear in law that “reasonable force” can be used to make criminals appear in the court when they are sentenced so they can hear from their victims, his office said.

Sunak will also introduce legislation for the government to hold North Sea oil and gas licencing rounds annually ― something Labour has ruled out by saying it would block new domestic exploration licenses if it wins power.

It will be the first time Charles will make the speech as King after standing in for his mother Queen Elizabeth last year, in a ceremony which traditionally begins with a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster.

In a pageant-laden ceremony with some of its traditions traced back to the 16th century, the monarch reads out a list of plans written by the government. His departure after the speech signals the start of a new parliamentary session.

Reading some of the government's environmental policies might jar with Charles, who has campaigned on environmental issues for more than 50 years, but government officials have repeatedly said ministers are not giving up on the overall targets, just being more “pragmatic” with measures.

The speech, just a month after the two main parties held their annual conferences, will add to a growing sense of a election campaign as yet not formally under way, one which the Conservatives hope will close the 20-point gap with Labour. ― Reuters

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