Queen’s Speech rules out new Scottish independence referendum

A second independence referendum would be a “damaging distraction”, the Queen’s Speech will set out today as Boris Johnson presents an agenda for government focused on investment in the NHS.

Dismissing the SNP’s calls for a second vote on independence, the Queen’s Speech will call for 2020 “to be a year of opportunity, growth and unity for Scotland, not of further division.”

Scotland will get a £1.2bn cash boost through the Barnett formula flowing from investment in the health service and other reserved areas.

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In a bid to consolidate election gains at the expense of Labour, Mr Johnson will pledge to enshrine in law a multi-year NHS funding settlement adding an extra £33.9 billion per year to the health service by 2023/24.

Queen Elizabeth II delivers the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. Picture: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire

Speaking last night at a Downing Street reception for nurses, the Prime Minister said: “The NHS is the single greatest institution in this country and it’s absolutely vital that we as political leaders, all kinds and all levels, understand what is going on in the NHS. You are doing an incredible job. But the pressures and demands are enormous and we have to help you cope with that. We have to invest and as you may have heard, we are.”

The SNP published an ‘alternative Queen’s Speech’ including legislation to give Scotland the power to hold a second independence referendum, as well as protecting the NHS from post-Brexit trade deals and abolishing both the House of Lords and the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

Ian Blackford, who was unanimously re-elected as SNP Westminster leader by the 47-strong nationalist group of MPs yesterday, said his party’s plan “sets out our priorities to ensure Scotland’s right to choose our own future is respected, to protect our NHS, end austerity, boost our economy, and deliver real action to tackle the climate emergency”.

Downing Street confirmed the government will legislate to give judgets in lower courts new powers to overturn rulings of the European Court of Justice after Brexit.

Theresa May had previously agreed to transfer existing European case law into British law after the UK leaves the EU, angering Tory Eurosceptics. It would have meant that only the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland were allowed to “depart” from EU law. “The Bill will ensure that the Supreme Court is not the only institution able to consider retaining European Court of Justice rulings,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.