News diary 16-22 December: Brexit bill could return to Commons after Conservative victory

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

Talks on restoring the Northern Ireland Executive resume on Monday nearly three years after the resignation of then-Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness triggered the collapse of the power-sharing agreement.

The parties are up against a looming January deadline to restore the Executive or face new elections, which could be an opportunity for nationalist parties to capitalise on gains made last week in the Westminster election.

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Hong Kong’s beleaguered Chief Executive Carrie Lam is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of her annual “duty visit” to Beijing.

Ongoing pro-democracy protests in the territory and the recent drubbing for pro-establishment candidates in district council elections likely figure high in the pair’s talks, though Lam may also be urged to step up efforts to curb the demonstrations.

MPs return to Westminster on Tuesday for the first session of the new Parliament, though after last week’s startling election results many of the Commons’ most familiar faces from recent years will not be among them.

The Conservative benches now feature MPs for previous Labour strongholds Blyth Valley, Sedgefield, Redcar, Don Valley, and Workington, while Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds are among the most high-profile of the departed. Today’s business is limited to the election of the Speaker, presided over by new Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley, and the swearing of oaths by new Members.

American singer R. Kelly is expected to appear at a court in New York on Wednesday afternoon to face bribery charges.

The offence is in connection with his marriage to Aaliyah Haughton in 1994, with the singer facing allegations that he paid off a government official to obtain a fake ID for the then 15-year-old. Kelly also faces separate trials for racketeering and child pornography in Chicago and New York next year.

Ayoub Majdouline is due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey in London for the murder of 14-year-old Jaden Moodie in Leyton. Majdouline, 19, was found guilty of killing the teenager after knocking him off his moped and stabbing him multiple times in a targeted attack.

Moodie is the youngest victim in a year which has seen London’s homicide rate reach its highest point in more than a decade, and his death prompted the local authority, Waltham Forest, to undertake a serious case review into his circumstances.

Vladimir Putin hosts national and international media in Moscow on Thursday for his annual end-of-year press conference, which can often run for several hours. The Russian president traditionally discusses domestic and foreign policy, and is likely this year to address his country’s international sporting ban over doping violations.

Last year’s press conference saw Putin fielding questions on topics such as the economy, inflation, and even nuclear war.

Seven Democratic presidential hopefuls face off in the penultimate debate before the Iowa caucuses on 3 February. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang were the only candidates to meet the increased qualifying threshold, making it the smallest debate stage yet.

Entrepreneur Yang is the sole non-white participant after the suspension of Kamala Harris’s campaign, and supporters of former candidates Cory Booker and Julian Castro are among those highlighting the lack of diversity on the Democratic stage.

The Rise of Skywalker, the latest in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, is released in cinemas. Featuring original cast member Mark Hamill and recent franchise favourites John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, along with previously unused footage of Carrie Fisher, the film is expected to bring in approximately $200m in the US in its opening weekend.

With his new 80-seat majority, Boris Johnson is expected to bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill back before MPs on Friday. Senior Tory figures suggested results came in that the legislation would be tabled quickly in an attempt to fulfil the Conservative campaign pledge to “Get Brexit Done” on 31 January.

The reintroduction of the Bill was welcomed by European Council President Charles Michel, who said European leaders expected a vote “as soon as possible” in the wake of the election result.

A new Boeing-developed spacecraft is scheduled to launch for an unmanned test flight to the International Space Station. The CST-100 Starliner is billed as a reusable capsule that will eventually accommodate seven crew on round-trips to the ISS and is one of two privately-built spacecraft, alongside the SpaceX Crew Dragon, that is planned for use in future NASA launches from US soil. The launch, twice delayed already this month, takes place aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The coveted Christmas Number One is announced in the UK, with Lewis Capaldi and Taylor Swift among those tipped for the top spot. After topping the charts last year with We Built This City on Sausage Rolls, YouTube star LadBaby is aiming to repeat the feat this year with I Love Sausage Rolls, a take on Joan Jett classic I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.

A packed day of sporting action on Saturday includes a top-of-the-table Premier League clash between second-placed Leicester City and Manchester City in third.

Meanwhile in Rugby’s Gallagher Premiership Saracens continue their bid to avoid a relegation battle following their points deduction by taking on high-flying Bristol and league leaders Northampton travel to Sale.

On Sunday, Croatians vote in a presidential election with incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic seeking a second term in office. Her main rival, former prime minister Zoran Milanovic of the Social Democratic Party, criticised Grabar-Kitarovic’s decision to avoid debates after she accused him of lacking a “decent” electoral platform. If needed, a run-off would take place on 5 January.

Meanwhile in Uzbekistan, the first parliamentary elections to be held under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev are held. Mirziyoyev has sought to convince the international community of his reformist credentials since replacing the authoritarian Islam Karimov, though exiled opposition groups have been prevented from participating in the vote.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

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