News diary for 7-12 May: Sir Cliff trial latest and MPs debate voting age bill

A new weekly guest blog from Foresight News providing a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week…

While Britain basks in a rare bout of Bank Holiday sun on Monday, when temperatures of up to 25C are forecast, celebrations may be more muted in Russia as Vladimir Putin is inaugurated for his fourth term in office. The record-breaking President will then appoint a new cabinet, in which Dmitry Medvedev is expected to be kept on as Prime Minister and the liberal former finance minister Alexei Kudrin may be asked to return.

On Tuesday, debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill concludes in the House of Lords, where Peers have already inflicted several damaging defeats on the Government, leading to calls in some quarters for a return to the dormant issue of reforming the second chamber (and possible vindication for the policies of one Sir Nick Clegg). Further defeats today would increase the pressure on Theresa May just a week after the Brexit balance of power shifted yet again.

Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan appears before the Scottish Affairs select committee on Tuesday, where he’ll answer questions on the closure of branches. This conveniently-scheduled session comes just a week after the banking giant confirmed plans to shut 160 branches in England and Wales. MPs will likely want to know why the closures are being ordered at a time when the bank’s profits are trebling.

Closing arguments are expected to be heard Tuesday in the High Court case brought by Sir Cliff Richard against the BBC. The veteran entertainer is suing the Corporation for breach of privacy over the televised raid on his Berkshire home in 2014. Sir Cliff claims he suffered ‘profound and long-lasting damage’ as a result of the raid, and the case could have a long-lasting impact on broadcasting and police-media relations.

The RMT union’s long-running battle against the introduction of driver-only operation continues with strike action on Wednesday by members at Greater Anglia and Arriva Rail North. The dispute, over the removal of guards and conductors from trains, has already led to walkouts on several franchises and union protests outside Parliament.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in follows up last week’s historic talks with his Northern counterpart Kim Jong-un with further regional discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The surprising return of diplomacy to the Korean peninsula is likely to be high on the agenda when the three sit down in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The Bank of England takes centre stage on (Super) Thursday, with the Monetary Policy Committee’s interest rate decision announced ahead of the quarterly report on inflation. Chances of a rate rise this month may have reduced after inflation fell in April to its lowest rate for a year, though Governor Mark Carney will be expected to explain why the CPI index is now falling faster than the Bank had predicted.

On Friday, MPs continue debating a private Bill which proposes reducing the voting age to 16 and making formal lessons on the UK’s political and constitutional makeup a part of citizenship education at GCSE level. The Bill, sponsored by Labour’s Peter Kyle, is backed by an NUS campaign and is expected to have cross-party support, at least on the backbenches.

Thousands of people are expected to join a TUC march in London on Saturday which culminates in a rally in Hyde Park where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be the star turn. It’s comfortable territory for Corbyn, who will be pleased to see a strong sign of support after a predicted Labour sweep in London failed to materialise.

Voters go to the polls in Iraq for the first time since the overthrow of Islamic State and one candidate should stand out even for those unfamiliar with Baghdad’s politics: shoe-throwing journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi. His chances of election are slim, but his campaign demand for an official apology from the United States will resonate with many.

For the first time in the contest’s history, the Eurovision Grand Final takes place in Portugal on Saturday, thanks to Salvador Sobral’s win last year. Twenty-six countries will see their chosen performers take to the stage in Lisbon in an attempt to take home the coveted glass microphone and become next year’s host. Israel is currently the bookies’ 9/4 favourite.

The Premier League season comes to an end on Sunday, and though the title has long since been wrapped up by a Pep Guardiola-inspired Manchester City, there are still records to chase, relegation places to avoid, and the small matter of Arsene Wenger’s bidding adieu to Arsenal after 22 years at the helm.

And stars of the small screen go to London’s Southbank Centre on Sunday for the British Academy Television Awards, this year hosted by former Bake Off favourite Sue Perkins. Nominees include Ant & Dec’s Saturday night Takeaway, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the inspiration for Michael Gove’s environmental zeal, Blue Planet II.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Peter Summers

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