THE Queen’s Speech has been branded a “sham” and nothing more than a pre-election "stunt" by the Tory Government as it placed a crackdown on crime at the centre of its political agenda.

With the Brexit talks overshadowing the set-piece event at Westminster, Boris Johnson and his ministers set out their programme for the months and years ahead but, heading a government that is 40 MPs short of a majority, the Prime Minister looks set for certain defeat early next week when the Commons votes on his legislative agenda. Six days have been set aside for debate.

Downing St confirmed that under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act defeat would not mean the resignation of the Government. "It has an ambitious legislative programme made up of a series of individual bills and we would wish to continue to make progress," declared Mr Johnson's spokesman. "That's what the public would expect of us; to get on with tackling issues such as improving public services, cracking down on violent crime, investing in science and infrastructure and ensuring fairness for families and individuals," he added.

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Of the 26 Bills put forward, 13 will have an impact on Scotland. Five of them, including the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, should Mr Johnson clinch a deal this week with Brussels, cover Brexit. They also include bills covering fisheries, trade and agriculture.

Other UKwide bills include ones on extradition, employment and the allocation of tips, pensions, air traffic management and the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

Most of what the PM has dubbed the “people’s priorities,” covering health, education and law and order are issues devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The seven bills relating to crime and justice south of the border include ones to keep serious criminals in prison for longer, impose tougher sentences on foreign offenders who return to the UK and provide better protection for victims of domestic abuse.

The Queen said: "New sentencing laws will see that the most serious offenders spend longer in custody to reflect better the severity of their crimes."

A Sentencing Bill for England would change the automatic release point from halfway to two thirds for adult offenders serving sentences of four years or more for serious violence or sexual offences.

Other measures include strengthening environmental protections, improving the NHS, and raising living standards through increasing the national living wage to £10.50 an hour.

But Labour’s Dame Margaret Beckett suggested the setting out of the Government's legislative programme was nothing more than a political charade.

"Everybody knows this is a sort of sham Queen's Speech,” declared the former Foreign Secretary. "We all know that what the Government wants is an election tomorrow."

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, tweeted: "The Queen's Speech was an election broadcast for the Tory Party more than anything else.

"A speech heavy on law & order from a Prime Minister willing to break the law. @BorisJohnson must sign the letter asking for an EU extension as the Benn act compels him if no deal is agreed."

Frances O'Grady, the TUC General Secretary, complained: "This Queen's Speech was a political stunt, not a serious set of commitments."

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader, suggested Mr Johnson was being “discourteous to Her Majesty” by asking her to read out a Government programme that was merely the bones of an election manifesto.

"First of all we saw how he misled her according to the Supreme Court over the first attempt of proroguing Parliament. Now he's bringing her into electoral politics.

"Conservatives up and down the land will be shocked that a Conservative prime minister is doing this to our Queen," added the London MP.

Ahead of the speech, Sajid Javid announced he was planning to hold a Budget just six days after the UK's scheduled Brexit date.

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The Chancellor tweeted: "On November 6 I'll deliver Britain's first Budget after Brexit and set out our plan to shape the economy and deliver our infrastructure revolution." However, if there is a no-deal outcome, Mr Javid will instead issue a holding statement ahead of a Budget next year.

The Government’s law and order package includes a bill to "drastically" increase the sentences for foreign criminals who return to the UK in breach of a deportation order, a move ministers say will help disrupt the activities of international crime gangs.

Proposed legislation would make it easier for police to arrest internationally wanted fugitives who were the subject of an Interpol Red notice without the need to apply for a UK arrest warrant, a process that could take a minimum of six to eight hours.

Initially, it would only apply to those issued by a limited number of countries with trusted justice systems, the other members of the Five Eyes intelligence group, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and two non-EU European states, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

However, the Government would be able to add other countries by statutory instrument.

The programme includes a "Helen's Law" bill, named after 22-year-old Helen McCourt who was murdered in 1988, to deny parole to murderers who withhold information about their victims.

The Government also intends to bring back the Domestic Abuse Bill which fell as a result of Mr Johnson's unlawful suspension of Parliament last month.

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The PM said in a statement: "People are rightly horrified by the spate of violent crime plaguing our streets, including the sickening rise in knife-related homicides."

Other measures in the speech include:

*an Environment Bill setting legally binding targets to reduce plastics, restore biodiversity, improve water quality and cut air pollution – around half of its provisions would extend and apply to Scotland;

*Immigration and Social Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill to end freedom of movement and introduce a points-based immigration system from 2021;

*railway reform with a white paper setting out proposals to overhaul the current system of franchising and creating a new commercial model and

*action on building standards in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire with the establishment of a new regulator with powers to impose criminal sanctions for breaches of building regulations.

Mr Johnson is also promising to ensure all tips are paid to waiting staff following an outcry that some major restaurant chains - such as Giraffe and Prezzo - were keeping as much as 10 per cent of tips paid by card.

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill would put a legal obligation on restaurateurs to "pass on all trips, gratuities and services charges to workers without deductions".

Meanwhile, No 10 revealed that ahead of the Queen's Speech Mr Johnson received a winter flu jab.