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UK PM Johnson to look beyond COVID crisis in next legislative agenda

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain, September 22, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Johnson’s government will try to look beyond the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, and honour Conservative Party election commitments in its agenda for the next year, Johnson’s office said in a statement on Sunday.

Since winning power with an election campaign built on a promise to get Brexit finished and start fixing regional imbalances and ageing infrastructure, Johnson’s leadership has been forced to take a different course by the COVID-19 outbreak.

His efforts to control the spread of the virus have been widely criticised, and the deal on trade with the European Union he hoped to secure easily is now in serious doubt. Both have caused public confidence in his leadership to fall.

But looking ahead to the next Queen’s Speech - in which the monarch sets out which laws the government intends to pass in the coming year - Johnson’s office promised to return to the priorities that helped him win an 80-seat majority in December.

“We were elected to get Brexit done and unleash Britain’s potential,” the office said in a statement issued to coincide with the Conservative Party annual conference.

“The Prime Minister has been clear that we will not be blown off course in our plans to build back better and that’s just what our next Queen’s Speech will do.”

No date has been set for the Queen’s Speech, which typically happens once a year. Although it is read by Queen Elizabeth, the speech is written by the government and often used to signal what policy priorities it has for the next 12 months.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is in charge of parliamentary business for the Conservatives, has written to the cabinet asking for “bold and ambitious” plans, the government statement said.

The speech will include bills on criminal justice, planning and animal welfare, the government said.

Reporting by William James; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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