Queen's Speech arrives at troubled time for Theresa May
Posted June 21
Britain's embattled Prime Minister Theresa May's attempt to lead a minority government starts in earnest Wednesday amid a backdrop of terror attacks and the fire at Grenfell Tower, one of the country's worst disasters for a generation.
The state opening of Parliament and Queen's Speech -- in which the UK government sets out its agenda for the coming parliamentary session -- comes at a time when May's premiership appears to be have become increasingly vulnerable and the country's future uncertain, with negotiations over Britain's departure from the European Union having only just begun.
May's own position has been called into question ever since her decision to call a snap election. Her attempt to secure a larger mandate ahead of the Brexit negotiations backfired spectacularly.
It has also led to her attempting to negotiate a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, a small party with 10 seats in Westminster, which -- along with the Conservative's 317 seats -- would give May enough votes in the house of Commons to pass her legislative agenda.
But with a deal yet to be done, she is aware that failure to get the speech through Parliament could be seen as a vote of no confidence in her government and leave her facing yet more embarrassment.
What is the Queen's speech?
The speech sets out the government's legislative plan for the next 12 months ahead -- but this year is set to be different.
That's because the government has canceled the 2018 Queen's Speech, saying it will need time to complete the country's exit from the European Union.
The speech is likely to include the Great Repeal Bill, which will convert all the EU laws into UK law.
But the fact that May's government is in such a precarious position means the more controversial policies may be left out.
That means the so-called "dementia tax," which was hugely unpopular with voters, is likely to be excluded.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already said that his party could vote against the Queen's Speech and even offer up some amendments.
He could also encourage the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats to follow suit and increase the pressure on the government.
Why is May under pressure?
May is already facing pressure on a number of fronts, with Britain still coming to terms with numerous terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire in which dozens were killed.
Much of the criticism aimed at May has focused on her reaction during the aftermath of the blaze and her pursuit of the DUP after the election -- a party known for its anti-abortion stance and its opposition to gay rights.
May's decision not to meet with residents and victims of the Grenfell Tower fire during a visit to the site angered locals, who felt their plight was being ignored by Downing Street.
When she returned to the scene of the disaster a day later to visit those affected at a local church hall, she was jeered and heckled before being bundled into her car by security.
It was only on Saturday, four days after the disaster, that May invited a group of residents, victims and community leaders to Downing Street.
While Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the Queen and Corbyn all visited and met those affected, May's absence was seized upon by her critics.
May has also been criticized over security, with Britain having been the target of a series of terror attacks in recent months.
She received a barrage of criticism for cutting 20,000 officers from police forces in her time as Home Secretary.
Since 2010, when the Conservatives entered government, the number of police officers has fallen from 145,948 to 126,766 in March 2016, according to Home Office figures cited by ITV.
Both Mayor Khan and Corbyn have urged the government not to cut police numbers any further.
May has also earned the ire of the public.
On Monday, she was heckled as she left Finsbury Park mosque after visiting the scene of an attack that targeted London's Muslim Community.
Monday's incident was the latest attack to hit the country.
On June 3, a vehicle and knife attack left eight people dead in the London Bridge area of the capital. In May, a suicide attack killed 22 people and injured nearly 60 after an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
And in March, a terrorist plowed his vehicle into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge, killing four people, before stabbing a police officer to death outside Parliament.
All of this has played out to the backdrop of Brexit, the country's decision to leave the EU.
Negotiations on the terms of Britain's withdrawal began earlier this week in Brussels and are expected to conclude by October 2018.
In contrast to the EU, which has published its path, the British government has yet to spell out its plans for Brexit, though it has made the Irish border and the status of EU citizens its immediate priorities.
But for now, the immediate priority for May will be ensuring the Queen's Speech passes through Parliament and avoiding any further reasons for embarrassment.