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News diary 2-8 September: Boris Johnson's first PMQs and prorogation legal challenges heard

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

Summer may be over but the headaches for holidaymakers continue as Ryanair’s pilots begin a three-day strike on Monday. The strike was called to protest pension arrangements, maternity benefits and pay, and is one of several disputes involving British carriers this year.

Meanwhile, a ballot of Heathrow Airport workers closes after the Unite union suspended strike action, originally scheduled for late August, to consider a new pay offer.

Four people are expected to appear at the Old Bailey to face trial for the murder of Jodie Chesney, who died after being stabbed at a park in Harold Hill in March. All four entered not guilty pleas at a previous hearing.

At the same court, serial sex attacker John Worboys is sentenced after admitting fresh offences of drugging four women. Worboys was convicted of a series of sex attacks on women in 2008; his proposed release from prison last year prompted an ongoing review of the Parole Board.

Parliament returns from summer recess on Tuesday with a battle looming over what’s either a constitutional outrage or normal practice for a new government, depending on which way you Brexit.

The announcement that Parliament would be suspended next week ahead of a Queen’s Speech on 14 October means that Dominic Raab’s first FCO questions is likely to be overshadowed by backbench MPs’ attempts to find a parliamentary mechanism to prevent a no-deal Brexit in the final days of this session.

The first of two landmark legal challenges to Boris Johnson’s planned prorogation of parliament is heard at Edinburgh’s Court of Session, in a case brought by a group of over 70 MPs led by the SNP’s Joanna Cherry. A request for an interim interdict, which would have prevented the suspension of parliament before a final legal ruling, was refused at a 29 August hearing; a judgment is expected before the end of the week.

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivers a lecture hosted by The Clinton Foundation, in one of her first public appearances since announcing she recently finished treatment on a cancerous tumour.

Justice Ginsburg’s health is an ongoing topic of interest as Senate Speaker Mitch McConnell has declared that he would allow a vote for a replacement should a Supreme Court seat become vacant next year. This contradicts McConnell’s decision during the Obama administration that the Senate would not vote on a nominee in a presidential election year.

Boris Johnson’s first session of PMQs on Wednesday should be as fractious as they come, with MPs on all sides of the House likely to demand an explanation for the Prime Minister’s decision to bring the current session to an end at such a sensitive stage of the Brexit process.

Interactions between the Prime Minister and John Bercow should make for a fascinating sub-plot after the Speaker accused Johnson of undermining his democratic credentials in a remarkable mid-holiday statement last week.

Sajid Javid’s first major act as Chancellor comes in a spending round statement that will set out departmental budgets for the next financial year. Taking place instead of a planned multi-year Spending Review, which is now due in 2020, the statement will confirm how the Prime Minister’s pledges on schools, hospitals and police recruitment are to be funded and help clear the decks so ministers can focus on Brexit preparations.

Amid speculation that the statement was evidence of election preparation in Whitehall, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell called it a panic driven stunt budget and criticised Javid’s commitment to his predecessor’s fiscal rules.

Old Trafford hosts the penultimate match of the 2019 Ashes with the best-of-five series now poised at 1-1. English hopes were rescued by Ben Stokes in an astonishing third test win at Headingley, with his performance even attracting the praise of Australian captain Tim Paine. Unfortunately for Joe Root’s side though, Old Trafford has become something of a fortress for Australia, with England not winning an Ashes test at the ground since 1981.

The results of a highly-anticipated survey of plant, animal and bacterial life in Loch Ness are published on Thursday by a New Zealand-based biologist. Although Professor Neil Gemmell and his researchers attest that the survey, which took DNA from skin and scale fragments last year, is unlikely to provide evidence of the Loch Ness Monster, they announced in August that there was one plausible “monster” theory out of the four often mooted to explain sightings of Nessie.

The week’s second legal challenge to prorogation is heard at the High Court in London, spearheaded by Article 50 campaigner Gina Miller and former Prime Minister John Major. Miller has branded the planned suspension of parliament as “cynical and cowardly”, accusing  Downing Street of behaving like “a dictatorship”.

As a former resident of Number 10, John Major’s decision on 30 August to join the legal action represents an unprecedented intervention – a former Conservative prime minister joining a legal action against the current Conservative prime minister will do little to support Boris Johnson’s claims that the Tories will be “reunited” under his leadership.

Following widespread power outages across England and Wales in early August, Friday marks the deadline for the National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) to submit its final report to Ofgem. The initial report, submitted on 20 August, blamed the outage on a lightning strike and a subsequent reduction of energy supply from Hornsea off-shore windfarm and Little Barford gas power station.

The report will be submitted as part of Ofgem’s investigation into whether the network operators were at fault, either through non-compliance or in the decision-making regarding disconnection.

An Iranian-issued deadline for the remaining members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to save the deal expires, with Tehran vowing to begin enriching uranium at the highest level since 2015 if the other partners can’t find a method for circumventing US sanctions.

The deadline follows Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s recent travel to the G7, China, Japan and Russia for discussions relating to the deal, and comes ahead of a much-anticipated possible meeting between President Rouhani and President Trump at the UN in September.

A busy day of sport on Saturday sees England taking on Bulgaria in a Euro 2020 qualifier, Wales facing Ireland in their final Rugby World Cup warm up match, and Khabib Nurmagomedov returning to the octagon to defend his UFC Lightweight Championship.

The likely highlight however is the US Open women’s singles final at Flushing Meadows. Though the two finalists are yet to be confirmed at the time of writing, Serena Williams remains on course for a tilt at a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title after impressive showings in the competition’s early rounds.

On Sunday, local elections take place in Moscow, as well as in a number of Russian regions and municipalities. There have been repeated protests in Moscow in the build up to these elections, sparked by a decision to bar opposition candidates from running, despite their efforts to overcome qualification criteria designed to make their participation impossible. Russia has, unsurprisingly, pointed the finger at foreign forces meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Henry Nicholls

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