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News diary 24-30 September: Bill Cosby returns to court for sentencing and biggest strike in Ryanair history expected

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

After a disastrous summit with EU leaders in Salzburg, Theresa May’s planned pre-conference Cabinet meeting on immigration on Monday will likely instead be focused on Donald Tusk’s frank conclusion that the Chequers plan “will not work”.

In an angry response from Downing Street on Friday, May demanded more respect from EU counterparts and called for alternative solutions from the bloc. With the Conservative Party conference beginning on Sunday and the next make-or-break EU Council just weeks away, the reality for the Prime Minister is that she is simply running out of time to find an acceptable Brexit solution.

John McDonnell’s address to delegates is the main draw at the Labour Party conference. The Shadow Chancellor’s speech is likely to expand on the pledge made earlier this month that a Labour government would consider challenging the dominance of the accounting sector’s “big four”.

It’s been a busy run-up to conference season for McDonnell, who moved to further placate concerns over the party’s inclusivity by calling for a woman to eventually succeed his long-term ally as Leader.

Following his April conviction on charges of indecent assault, Bill Cosby returns to court in Pennsylvania for a two-day sentencing hearing.

A hearing is also scheduled in Stormy Daniels’s federal challenge to the non-disclosure agreement with Donald Trump with regards to their alleged affair. It follows a suggestion in court documents that the US President doesn’t plan to enforce the agreement.

Tuesday marks the highlight of the UN General Assembly’s calendar with the opening of the general debate. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Emmanuel Macron, Shinzo Abe and Theresa May are scheduled to speak on the opening day, with the Rohingya crisis, the Syrian civil war, Iran, and the Korean Peninsula among issues likely to be discussed.

President Trump will also hold a series of bilateral talks on the sidelines of the debate; meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Theresa May are the highlights.

In Liverpool, a plenary session at Labour conference features speeches on Brexit and the economy, while Shadow Cabinet members including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon take part in a panel discussion at “The World Transformed”, the Momentum-backed shadow conference,  themed “Towards a Socialist Government”.

High street giant Next announces its latest round of financial results. Six months ago, the retail giant’s chief executive warned that it had experienced its most difficult trading period in a quarter of a century following an eight per cent decline in annual sales.

It’s been a sobering year for the British retail sector, with Poundworld, Maplin, and Toys R Us having disappeared from the high street and a host of household names being forced into drastic cost-cutting measures.

The Labour Party’s autumn conference reaches its conclusion on Wednesday, with leader Jeremy Corbyn taking to the stage to address delegates.

The ongoing anti-Semitism row gripping the party has damaged the Labour leader in the polls, with a recent Ipsos MORI survey showing just 25 per cent of people now approve of his leadership. Corbyn will hope he can at least avoid any embarrassing “exotic spresms” during the speech…

In New York, President Trump takes centre stage as he hosts a UN Security Council meeting on Iran. Despite the initial dismay at his decision to pull the United States out of the nuclear deal framework, the Trump administration has been buoyed by recent news that Iranian oil exports have dropped by more than a third since the imposition of sanctions.

An increasingly tough stance on Iran has become a pillar of the Trump presidency, though it’s being warned that a continued hawkish approach could ultimately cause divisions with other world leaders.

Foreign ministers from the P5 nations – the five permanent UN Security Council members – meet on the UNGA margins on Thursday for an event billed as a discussion on “some of the world’s most pressing global issues”.

Among those likely to be covered are Iran’s nuclear programme and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, though internal tensions in the grouping between the US and China, and the UK and Russia, are likely to preclude any real progress on these issues.

UEFA announces which of Germany or Turkey has successfully bid to be the host nation for the Euro 2024 tournament. The two countries’ football federations clashed earlier this year when Germany players Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan, who both have Turkish heritage, posed with President Erdogan when he visited London. Erdogan, coincidentally, begins a three-day state visit to Germany today.

On Friday, Ryanair staff from five European countries stage what will be the biggest strike in the airline’s history in a dispute over contracts, and which has received the backing of the European Commission.

Walkouts by cabin crew in August led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights across the continent, and unions from Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Spain agreed to the joint action after declaring that no progress had since been made in talks with the carrier’s management.

The true extent of the economic bounce brought on by the summer’s record breaking temperatures and World Cup Fever is revealed in the final growth figures for the second quarter of this year. In its last estimate, the ONS said GDP had increased by 0.6 per cent in the three months to July, a two-percentage point rise from the previous quarter.

Meanwhile at the UN, the highlight of the agenda is the scheduled address by Russia, for whom Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is likely to take the podium and address any number of the country’s current grievances: sanctions, the Salisbury poisonings, NATO, election interference, and the Middle East are all likely to feature.

The general debate continues Saturday with ministers from North Korea, Syria and Canada among those due to speak across the day’s sessions. Look out for Syria’s Walid Muallem on the recently-agreed demilitarised zone in Idlib, North Korea’s Ri Yong-ho on the progress made in denuclearisation on the peninsula, and Canada’s Chrystia Freeland on NAFTA.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi are both also scheduled to speak today; the pair agreed last week to meet in New York, but the talks were abruptly cancelled on Friday when India said the “latest brutal killings” of security personnel and the release of postage stamps “glorifying a terrorist and terrorism” had “exposed the true face” of new Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan.

And from today, there are just six months until Brexit day.

On Sunday, the Conservative Party conference kicks off in Birmingham with MPs still at odds over little things like who should be leading the party and whether the public should have a vote on the Brexit deal.

Theresa May has been left with just over two weeks to secure a deal, and with Boris ready to swoop in and save the day the stage is set for this year’s conference to outdo even the drama of 2017. After a welcome address by party chair Brandon Lewis, the opening day’s agenda is focused on Global Britain and features speeches by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Across town, Conservative MPs Andrea Jenkyns and Peter Bone are among those forsaking Brandon Lewis and co to listen to Nigel Farage rail against the Chequers plan at a Save Brexit Rally hosted by the Leave Means Leave campaign.

The group has organised a series of rallies around the country to campaign for what it calls a “clean, swift exit from the European Union”, with the former UKIP leader appearing alongside leading Tories David Davis, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Owen Pateson.

And a referendum takes place in Macedonia, where voters are set to decide whether to accept an agreement with Greece that would result in the country changing its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

The agreement was hailed as a historic end to a bitter dispute when it was announced by Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras in June, but divisions remain among citizens of both countries over whether it should be formally adopted.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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