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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 5:37 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Leader of the Liberal Democrats 5:37 pm, 21st June 2017

We absolutely do, and he is an example of what genuinely unites us and of our love and concern for others. Indeed, he reflects the values of the colossal majority of Muslim people in this country, and it is important that we reflect that.

In their absence, let me also pay tribute to the humorous, witty and wise remarks of the mover and the seconder of the response to the Gracious Speech, and move on to my own remarks, which I promise will not be all that lengthy—whether they are wise, Members can judge at the end.

The Prime Minister is not in her place now; she is entitled not to be. She and I have a lot in common. We both contested North West Durham in 1992, and neither of us won; we both led our parties in the recent general election, and neither of us won; and soon neither of us will be leading our parties any more, but at least I have got the honesty to admit it publicly. Britain, for all its immense and glorious heritage, its potentially wonderful future, and all its tremendous values, is nevertheless a country in a mess. It is essentially a mess caused by two choices made by two Conservative Prime Ministers who put their party before their country. First, David Cameron called a referendum on Europe for no other reason than to attempt to put a sticking plaster between two sides of the Conservative party. Secondly, our current Prime Minister thought she could gain narrow party advantage by calling a snap election. Pride comes before a fall. It is tempting to be amused at the hubris turned to humiliation that has now come upon the Conservative party, but the problem is that this is a mess that damages Britain—that damages the future for all of our children.

So, to the Gracious Speech. Her Majesty has launched many ships in her time, but never such an empty vessel as the one today. I am not sure whether wasting the monarch’s time is a treasonous act; I hope for the Prime Minister’s sake it is not. The Queen’s Speech shows that we have a Government who have lost touch with their people and lost touch with reality. If they have the first, foggiest idea of what the will of the people is now, they have chosen to ignore it. Why is there no additional investment in health or social care? As two in three of our head teachers across our country in the next few weeks are having to lay off teaching staff, why is there no plan to cancel the £3 billion-worth of cuts to our schools?