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News diary 22-28 April: First hearing of DCMS disinformation sub-committee and Time magazine holds inaugural summit

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

While most of the UK enjoys another Easter bank holiday, across the pond the many contenders for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020 are in action at a CNN town hall in New Hampshire on Monday.

Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg each have a one-hour slot to make their case to US voters, with Sanders and Buttigieg currently leading the popular polls for declared candidates. The picture for Democrats could be about to change with former vice president Joe Biden reported to be in the final stages of announcing his own bid for the Oval Office.

The Guardian hosts a panel event with Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who sparked worldwide protests by leading school strikes in her native Sweden last year.

The 16-year-old has since delivered an incendiary speech to lawmakers in the European Parliament and received a blessing from Pope Francis, and today’s Earth Day discussion with Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and UK student leader Anna Taylor comes after Extinction Rebellion climate activists took over several central London sites last week.

MPs return from their short recess on Tuesday with Brexit likely to make an immediate return to the top of the Parliamentary agenda. Business includes Justice questions and Northern Ireland legislation, though there are likely to be urgent questions or demands for ministers to provide an update on the progress of cross-party talks over the Easter break.

Elsewhere in Parliament, Matt Hancock gives evidence to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee on social care funding in England, which comes as reports suggest that the Department for Health has postponed publication of the Social Care Green Paper for a sixth time.

The Green Paper is expected to outline plans for making social care financially viable and sustainable, with the Department reportedly blaming Brexit and slow progress with sector leaders for the delay.

Following the DCMS committee’s report on fake news, which called for greater regulation of social media firms, a new sub-committee  on disinformation holds its first hearing.  Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is among the witnesses.

Time magazine marks the publication of its Time 100 list with an inaugural summit in New York. The summit aims to highlight the contributions of the world’s most influential people, and features speeches from big names such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and media titan Arianna Huffington (pictured).

Chancellor Philip Hammond appears before the Treasury Committee on Wednesday to discuss his Spring Statement. Presenting his plans to the House of Commons in March, Hammond pledged to spend a £26bn “Brexit dividend” if MPs supported Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The committee is sure to use the session to explore suggestions that the Spring Statement has failed to ease the pressure of austerity, something Hammond has seemingly accepted with comments that an end to austerity relies on a successful Brexit deal.

US planemaker Boeing reports its latest financial results after a difficult start to 2019. The company’s 737 Max 8 fleet remains grounded following two fatal crashes in the space of six months, with officials saying they are “working quickly” to update the software blamed for the incidents. The company has reportedly been urged to restructure its management and board ahead of its 29 April AGM.

Following on from his committee appearance, Matt Hancock delivers a speech at the Royal College of Physicians’ annual conference on Thursday.

The Health Secretary’s spot is billed as his “vision” for the NHS, and may feature further detail on the Long Term Plan launched earlier this year, while no Hancock speech would be complete without an enthusiastic celebration of the benefits of technology to the 76-year-old health service.

Eyes turn to Holyrood for FMQs, where MSPs have the opportunity to grill First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on a promise to lay out her plans for a second vote on Scottish independence following the Easter recess. Sturgeon laid the groundwork for her announcement in a statement published last week, in which she said Scotland should be a “driving force” in the European Union.

On Friday, President Xi Jinping hosts the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on China’s flagship Silk Road infrastructure initiative. Chancellor Philip Hammond is scheduled to be among attendees along with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, Swiss President Ueli Maurer and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while Russian President Vladimir Putin is this year’s guest of honour.

The Russian president is rumoured to be travelling to far eastern Russia ahead of the forum for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, with reports suggesting that Putin will use the summit to court Kim before the Korean’s mooted third sit-down with US President Donald Trump.

In the US, President Donald Trump delivers his third keynote speech in a row at the NRA’s annual leadership forum. Trump said last year that gun owners’ rights were “under siege” after previously vowing that the US constitution’s second amendment would never be repealed in the wake of the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

This year’s conference comes a week after the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, one of the deadliest mass shootings in US history.

The Scottish National Party convenes in Edinburgh from Saturday for the party’s annual spring conference, with members awaiting the promised update on IndyRef2 from Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister faces a delicate balancing act in the coming months after her response to the Article 50 extension appeared to clash with calls from senior figures, notably International Trade Committee chair Angus MacNeil, to make a second vote on independence the party’s priority.

In Washington, the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner departs from its recent tradition of having a comedian host, with historian and author Ron Chernow doing the honours this year.

The change follows what was deemed to be a controversial turn from US comic Michelle Wolf last year in which she took aim at several prominent Republican politicians and members of the Trump administration, notably Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Spain holds its third national elections in four years on Sunday after the loss of a key budget vote prompted Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to call a snap poll in February.

Sanchez took office in June 2018 after a no-confidence vote in incumbent Mariano Rajoy and headed a minority administration which relied on the support of Spain’s smaller regional parties.

After two Catalan separatist parties voted against the socialist government’s spending plans, Sanchez was forced to bring forward parliamentary elections from next year and will attempt to build a majority amid Spain’s ever-present regional tensions and the rise of the populist right.

And some 39,000 runners take to the capital’s streets for the London Marathon. Olympic hero Sir Mo Farah will be looking to add to his victory in last year’s Chicago marathon, while Sir Andy Murray is this year’s official starter.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Mike Blake

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