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News diary 25 November-1 December: BBC and Sky News host election debates and new European leaders take office

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

As the election campaign heats up and manifestos are unveiled, this week presents several opportunities for party leaders to put their policies direct to voters.

Kicking things off on Monday is BBC attack dog-in-chief Andrew Neil quizzing Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the first of a series of primetime interviews with the party leaders.

Neil clashed with Boris Johnson during this summer’s Conservative leadership contest and his forensic style has already caught out several interviewees in the first weeks of this campaign. An interview with Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn follows on Tuesday before further interviews air early next month.

More than 40,000 members of the University and College Union are expected to walk out for the first of eight days of strike action over two separate disputes regarding pensions and pay and working conditions.

The strikes are in part a continuation of the industrial action taken in early 2018, which amounted to the longest-ever strike in the history of UK higher education, and union leaders have warned of further action in early 2020 should negotiations continue to stall.

A trial begins at the Old Bailey for a man charged with the murder of Jaden Moodie in east London earlier this year. Moodie died on 8 January following an alleged incident in Leyton where he was knocked off his moped and stabbed.

The case made national headlines when police described the attack on the 14-year-old as premeditated and “barbaric”. Ayoub Majdouline, 19, denied the charges during a plea hearing in July.

Tuesday marks the deadline to register to vote in next month’s election. The 2017 electorate of 46.8m was the largest-ever for a national poll in the UK, though ahead of this year’s ballot the Electoral Reform Society campaign group suggested that, despite a surge in applications in recent weeks, there could still be over 9m eligible voters missing from the register come December 12.

President Donald Trump hosts a Keep America Great campaign rally in Florida. The Sunshine State is a vital swing state, and, having secured only a 1.2 per cent winning margin in 2016, the 29 electoral college votes will be key to Trump securing re-election in 2020.

The rally also follows Trump’s relocation to Florida as his official place of residence, a move widely interpreted to have been made for tax purposes.

The Office for National Statistics publishes statistics on excess winter mortality in England and Wales on Wednesday. The figures come after the NHS recently announced it would pay for doctors’ tax bills in a bid to stave off a winter crisis in the health service.

The health service has been plagued by the so-called “tax trap”, in which doctors’ earnings and pension contributions could be taxed by more than 90 per cent if they earn over £110,000 per year, which has resulted in doctors refusing to work overtime or do weekend work to avoid being hit.

In Strasbourg, incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured, left) addresses the European Parliament ahead of a vote on her team of commissioners, paving the way for the new Commission to begin work on 1 December.

The vote is moving ahead despite the UK’s refusal to nominate a commissioner, prompting legal action from the Commission. The process has not been plain sailing for the President-elect: three of her initial nominees were rejected by MEPs, and she faced backlash over her decision to nominate former spokesman Margaritis Schinas to a role whose title included “Protecting our European Way of Life”.

Namibia holds general elections, with incumbent president Hage Geingob favoured to secure a further five-year term in office, despite a bribery scandal that forced the resignations of Geingob’s Fisheries Minister Bernard Esau and Justice Minister Sakeus Shanghala earlier this month.

Sky News hosts a televised debate on Thursday which is likely to be the only appearance for Jo Swinson alongside her prime ministerial rivals Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn (much to the chagrin of the Liberal Democrats).

Both Labour and the Conservatives claimed victory after last week’s first live debate, though more column inches were devoted to the Tories’ widely criticised rebranding of their press office Twitter account as “Fact Check UK” during the ITV programme.

Former Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, who was in power in 2014 when the Umbrella Movement was born, is set to deliver a speech at the Chinese-administered region’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

He may reflect on the ongoing unrest and his successor Carrie Lam’s handling of recent protests. Beijing has denied rumours of plans to replace Lam before her term is due to end in 2020.

Following on from a series of strikes earlier this year, students and young people across the world strike from school on Friday to protest businesses and governments’ perceived inaction over climate change.

The protest is organised by Fridays for Future and endorsed by student climate activist Greta Thunberg, and comes just ahead of the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) on 2 December. In a recent survey of the UK electorate, 54 per cent said that the issue of climate change will affect how they vote in the upcoming General Election.

Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk meets with his successor Charles Michel (pictured, right) for an official handover ceremony before the start of the latter’s term on 1 December.

Tusk will be remembered as an outspoken critic of Brexit after his now infamous “special place in hell” remark and warning that Britain’s dominance on the world stage would diminish considerably after exiting the bloc. Incoming President Michel has offered a more conciliatory approach, emphasising the need for continued close cooperation between Britain and the European Union.

The road to next summer’s continent-wide European Championships begins in Bucharest on Saturday with the draw for the group stage of the competition. Among the home nations, England and Wales secured automatic qualification while Northern Ireland and Scotland must contest a playoff to ensure their participation.

Defending champions Portugal, World Cup winners France and previous tournament winners Spain and Germany all qualified with ease.

After guiding Wales to fourth place in last month’s Rugby World Cup, Warren Gatland returns to Cardiff to face his former side for the first time. Gatland takes charge of the Barbarians as his Wales successor Wayne Pivac oversees his first game.

The match could be Gatland’s last in the UK for some time – he returns to New Zealand to coach the Chiefs in the new Super Rugby season before then leading the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2021.

The terms of new European leaders Ursula Von Der Leyen and Charles Michel begin on Sunday, and the day also marks the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which established the role of European Council president and increased the influence of the Commission president.

The treaty may be better remembered in the UK, however, for Article 50 and the introduction of a mechanism through which an EU member could withdraw from the bloc.

To round off the week, the BBC hosts a seven-way debate bringing together representatives from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Brexit Party, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru.

The television-averse Prime Minister is replaced by chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak, and the debate has already attracted criticism for leaving Northern Irish parties DUP and Sinn Féin off the line-up despite them having more MPs than the Brexit Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Francois Lenoir/Pool

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