Queen outlines UK government agenda in scaled-down speech

LONDON (AP) — Weakened by a disastrous election, British Prime Minister Theresa May ditched some of her most controversial campaign pledges and suggested she was willing to soften her approach to leaving the European Union as Queen Elizabeth II delivered the government’s legislative agenda to Parliament Wednesday.

The focus on Brexit was clear as eight of 27 bills outlined in the Queen’s Speech dealt with the technicalities of ending Britain’s membership in the EU. The speech is written by the government and delivered by the monarch at the ceremonial opening of each new Parliament.

The prime minister, in comments delivered after the speech, promised to work with “humility and resolve” to overcome the divisions in Britain.

“We will do what is in the national interest and we will work with anyone in any party that is prepared to do the same,” she said.

May called the June 8 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 ends its 44-year membership in the EU. Instead, May lost her majority as many voters shunned the government’s approach to Brexit and rebelled against seven years of austerity.

May on Wednesday slimmed down her legislative program, omitting several policies touted during the Conservative Party’s election campaign, including plans to change funding for the care of older people, which opponents dubbed the “dementia tax.” Also missing were plans to end free school lunches for the youngest children and limit winter fuel payments for the elderly only to those on low incomes.

Nor was there a mention of U.S. President Donald Trump’s previously announced, but as yet unscheduled, state visit. May’s invitation, extended within days of Trump taking office, has been sharply criticized by all parties.

The prime minister’s office said nothing had changed. The visit was not mentioned in the speech because no…

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