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News diary 22-28 October: Tommy Robinson faces new contempt of court hearing and Saudi conference sees boycott over disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

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

On Monday, Theresa May is expected to deliver a statement to the House of Commons on the latest European Council meeting.

The Prime Minister traditionally updates MPs after an EU leaders’ meeting, and May will be expected to explain the latest failure to reach an agreement and the suggestion that the UK’s transition period could be extended for a further year.

Also in the Commons, the Offensive Weapons Bill is scrutinised. The bill would see far greater restrictions placed on the sale of acid and so-called “zombie knives”, and is opposed by a sizeable chunk of DUP and Conservative MPs over a clause that would ban high-powered, military grade rifles.

Thirty-five MPs, including former Brexit Minister Steve Baker and DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson, have put their names to an amendment that would scrap the ban in favour of tighter security checks. The scale of the rebellion, combined with the Government’s wafer-thin working majority, has the potential to force May into an embarrassing climbdown.

Italy’s budget saga looks set to escalate after the European Commission warned that its spending plans were in breach of eurozone rules.

Rome has been hurtling towards a confrontation with Brussels after unveiling a budget which would see net government expenditure increase by 2.7 per cent, far above the 0.1 per cent growth allowed to Italy under eurozone rules. The coalition government is due to respond to the Commission’s findings by today.

Tuesday sees a depleted cast of international politicians and business leaders gather in the Saudi Arabian capital for the Future Investment Initiative, dubbed “Davos in the Desert”.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and IMF chief Christine Lagarde are among those boycotting the summit over the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s government, in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate. Saudi Arabia continues to deny any involvement in Khashoggi’s death.

Michael Gove addresses representatives from the Oireachtas and the House of Commons on the second day of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

The Environment Secretary is due to discuss Brexit and agriculture and may use the opportunity to provide some detail on the announcement of a review into funding for farmers across the UK. Commons Speaker John Bercow, currently under fire from his Parliamentary colleagues over his alleged role in a bullying scandal, delivers a welcome address.

At the Old Bailey, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, appears to face contempt of court charges.

Yaxley-Lennon (pictured) is accused of breaking reporting restrictions on a case in Canterbury by filming the defendants. Supporters of the former EDL leader reportedly threw human faeces at the court building at a previous hearing.

On Wednesday, Vince Cable delivers a major pre-Budget speech in central London at an event hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation think tank.

The Liberal Democrat leader will outline his party’s plans to tackle in-work poverty and reform the Universal Credit programme, which has lately been subject to fierce criticism and rumours of further delays, and would likely be a popular platform for the party in its attempts to woo disaffected Labour voters.

On Thursday, Shinzo Abe arrives in Beijing for what is the first visit to China by a Japanese Prime Minister since 2011.

The visit, at the invitation of Abe’s counterpart Li Keqiang, marks the 40th anniversary of the two nations’ Treaty of Peace and Friendship and will also involve talks on trade, according to China’s foreign ministry. Abe is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday.

Dominic Raab’s ministerial team can expect an enthusiastic grilling from MPs during DExEU departmental questions after it was suggested that the failure to agree a deal at last week’s European Council may result in an extended sitting over Christmas.

MPs are also likely to have questions on whether the eventual “meaningful vote” will be an amendable motion or, as the Brexit Secretary suggested, a simple deal or no deal vote.

MPs consider the Civil Partnership Bill in a session of Private Members’ Bills in the Commons on Friday. The legislation would allow for civil partnerships to be made available to heterosexual couples, and has been described by Prime Minister Theresa May and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt as “an important step forward for equality”.

The influential IISS Manama Dialogue also gets underway, with heads of state, foreign ministers, and senior advisers gathering in Bahrain to discuss issues surrounding security in the Middle East. The meeting’s agenda includes talks on cyber threats, nuclear energy and non-proliferation, and conflict and diplomacy, and traditionally features a Cabinet-level US speaker.

An address by Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa is the highlight of the Europe for the Many conference on Saturday. The conference features discussions on a range of issues, including the rise of nationalism, and proposes a “left strategy for transforming Europe”.

Costa provided what was one of the more positive assessments of last week’s EU-27 meeting on Brexit by suggesting that the stars would have to be “very badly aligned” for a deal to not happen.

A packed weekend of sport begins with Premier League and Championship football action, an IT20 match between Sri Lanka and England, and the latest round of the Guinness Pro 14 Rugby Union competition.

Saturday is also the final day of events from the Invictus Games in Sydney, which has been a key part of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tour of Australia.

Voters return to the polls in Brazil on Sunday for the second round of the presidential election. The controversial far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro takes on Fernando Haddad, a left-wing former mayor of Sao Paulo. Bolsonaro has already survived an assassination attempt on the campaign trail, and emerged from the election’s first round with 46 per cent of the vote.

German state elections also take place in Hesse. The region is home to the country’s financial hub of Frankfurt, and a poor result for the ruling CDU here could spell the beginning of the end for Angela Merkel’s Chancellorship.

The vote took on extra significance after a “political earthquake” in the recent Bavaria elections, with Merkel’s party now being predicted to lose as much as 25 per cent of its support in Hesse.

And it’s lie-ins all round as the clocks go back for the end of British Summer Time.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

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