London (CNN)Britain’s embattled Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to lead a minority government starts in earnest Wednesday amid a backdrop of terror attacks and the fire at Grenfell Tower, one of the country’s worst disasters for a generation.
The state opening of Parliament and Queen’s Speech — in which the UK government sets out its agenda for the coming parliamentary session — comes at a time when May’s premiership appears to be have become increasingly vulnerable and the country’s future uncertain, with negotiations over Britain’s departure from the European Union having only just begun.
May’s own position has been called into question ever since her decision to call a snap election. Her attempt to secure a larger mandate ahead of the Brexit negotiations backfired spectacularly.
It has also led to her attempting to negotiate a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, a small party with 10 seats in Westminster, which — along with the Conservative’s 317 seats — would give May enough votes in the house of Commons to pass her legislative agenda.
But with a deal yet to be done, she is aware that failure to get the speech through Parliament could be seen as a vote of no confidence in her government and leave her facing yet more embarrassment.
What is the Queen’s speech?
The speech sets out the government’s legislative plan for the next 12 months ahead — but this year is set to be different.
That’s because the government has canceled the 2018 Queen’s Speech, saying it will need time to complete the country’s exit from the European Union.
The speech is likely to include the Great Repeal Bill, which will convert all the EU laws into UK law.
But the fact that May’s government is in such a precarious position means the more controversial policies may be left out.
That means the so-called “dementia tax,” which was hugely unpopular with voters, is likely to be excluded.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already said that his party could vote against the Queen’s Speech and even offer up some amendments.
He could also encourage the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats to follow suit and increase the pressure on the government.
And in March, a terrorist plowed his vehicle into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing four people, before stabbing a police officer to death outside Parliament.
All of this has played out to the backdrop of Brexit, the country’s decision to leave the EU.
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Negotiations on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal began earlier this week in Brussels and are expected to conclude by October 2018.
In contrast to the EU, which has published its path, the British government has yet to spell out its plans for Brexit, though it has made the Irish border and the status of EU citizens its immediate priorities.
But for now, the immediate priority for May will be ensuring the Queen’s Speech passes through Parliament and avoiding any further reasons for embarrassment.