Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Monday 28 June
Boris Johnson is expected to announce whether the date for the end of all remaining coronavirus restrictions can be brought forward by two weeks to 5 July. There has been some optimism from members of the scientific community, including Professor Neil Ferguson who noted that although cases are rising, hospitalisation figures are showing that vaccines are effective in preventing severe illness. However, the Prime Minister looks more likely to hold off until 19 July so that a greater number of adults can receive their second COVID-19 jab.
- July 16, 2021
- July 9, 2021
- July 2, 2021
Wimbledon returns following a coronavirus-enforced cancellation in 2020, as Novak Djokovic eyes a 20th Grand Slam title. The defending champion would draw level with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on the all-time list if he lifts this year’s trophy, cementing his status as one of the game’s greatest players. Though Nadal has pulled out of the tournament, eight-time champion Federer does compete in what could be his final appearance at SW19.
England welcome old foes Germany to Wembley as the Round of 16 concludes at Euro 2020. Gareth Southgate’s side topped Group D after wins over Croatia and the Czech Republic, while Germany finished as runners-up to France in Group F. Recent form shows there’s likely to be very little separating the two sides, their last three meetings resulting in a win apiece and a draw. The match also marks their first European Championship clash in more than 20 years.
Martin Hockridge, 57, of Harpenden, Hertfordshire, is due before Westminster Magistrates Court charged with using threatening behaviour following an incident involving BBC journalist Nick Watt. The Newsnight political editor was pursued through Whitehall by a group of anti-lockdown protestors on 14 June, in a display Prime Minister Boris Johnson branded “disgraceful”. A second person has also been charged over the clash and is listed to appear in court on 22 July.
A quick trip along committee corridor, where the highlights are Lord Frost’s rescheduled date with the DCMS committee on visas for creative workers and Sir Kevan Collins’ appearance before the Education Committee to discuss the government’s education recovery plans; elsewhere the business committee questions British Business Bank CEO Catherine De La Torre on the future of the UK steel industry and the sector’s links to Greensill Capital, and the public administration committee hears from senior political party figures, including Reform UK leader Richard Tice, on the work of the Electoral Commission.
Six months on from the end of the Brexit transition period, the EU’s grace period on the import of chilled meats from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is due to expire. The deadline has been at the heart of the recent “sausage war” as the teams have tried to negotiate changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol amid disruption in trade from GB to Northern Ireland. The UK has requested a further three-month extension, which the EU is now expected to grant, meaning the row may be put off until September.
It’s also the end of the grace period for applications to the UK’s EU Settled Status scheme and the equivalent residency schemes for UK citizens in France, Malta, Luxembourg and Latvia. With potentially tens of thousands of Brits in France at risk of losing healthcare and employment rights, one French prefecture said the deadline there would be extended until September, as it has been in the Netherlands, while EU citizens in the UK will be given a 28-day warning to submit their settlement application if the deadline is missed.
Potential homebuyers face an anxious few days trying to complete purchases before the stamp duty holiday expires. The introduction of the holiday in July last year resulted in asking prices reaching record levels, and the Nationwide building society reported house price growth was at its highest since 2014 in its latest index. The business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure firms, introduced way back in March 2020 in one of Rishi Sunak’s first major pandemic responses, also expires. The measure has been a lifeline for thousands of small businesses, but the Labour Party and industry bodies have warned recently about the possible impact on hospitality firms’ recovery if the tax returns just as business contributions to furlough payments increase.
Donald Trump visits the US-Mexico border with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on the heels of a similar trip from Vice President Kamala Harris. Between a tour of the border and a Fox News town hall, the pair are certain to bemoan the alleged rise in human and drug trafficking, theft and violence at the border since Joe Biden took office. Faced with the highest number of migrants arriving at the border in over 20 years, Biden faces sustained pressure to ensure safety and security while managing humanitarian concerns.
Keir Starmer faces another test of his leadership as voters head to the polls in the “Red Wall” constituency of Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire. The seat of murdered MP Jo Cox was vacated by her successor Tracey Brabin following her election as Mayor of West Yorkshire in May. Opinion polling gives the Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson a six-point lead over Labour candidate and Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater. Former Respect MP and Labour provocateur George Galloway could also throw a spanner in the works, with some Labour sources believing he could exploit the recent violence in Gaza to appeal to disaffected, traditionally Labour-supporting Muslim voters and hand the Conservatives their first victory in Batley since 1997.
A statue of the late Princess Diana is unveiled in the grounds of Kensington Palace to mark what would have been her 60th birthday. Princes William and Harry are both due to attend the unveiling of the work by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, which was commissioned at their request. The brothers’ rift is apparently showing no signs of healing after their last meeting at the funeral of The Duke of Edinburgh, and Royal-watchers will be keen for any indications of reconciliation.
An increasingly assertive China is set to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921, with President Xi Jinping due to deliver a speech from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. It coincides with another anniversary, that of the 1997 handover of control of Hong Kong from Britain to China, which historically has been marked by protests from pro-democracy groups. However, with almost all protests outlawed under the territory’s draconian National Security Law, and outdoors gatherings of over four people illegal under current COVID-19 restrictions, don’t expect many distractions from the official party line.
ECB head Christine Lagarde and former Brexit bête noire Michel Barnier are among the headline speakers as this year’s Aix-en-Provence Economic Forum opens today. Lagarde, who this month vowed to continue supporting the eurozone economy well into its pandemic recovery, participates in a session on lessons from 2020, while Barnier, who is apparently still keeping up with the Brexit drama, discusses how the pandemic is redrawing the world map.
Should they make it past Germany and Denmark respectively, England and Wales will carry their nations’ sporting hopes into the quarterfinals of Euro 2020. Gareth Southgate’s men would take on the winner of Sweden v Ukraine in Rome, while Wales would face either The Netherlands or Czech Republic in Baku – and the two sides would then play each other in the semi-final (but we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here). The first two matches of the round take place on Friday.
The British & Irish Lions play their first match on South African soil as they face the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg. After their warm-up game with Japan in Edinburgh, the Lions now have just five matches in which to prepare themselves for the three-test series with the Springboks. Warren Gatland is likely to make a number of changes from the side that started in Murrayfield, with tour captain Alun Wyn Jones among those expected to be rested.
Sunday 4 July
The long-running trade dispute between the UK and the US over aid to Boeing and Airbus was finally resolved last month, with a five-year tariff truce agreed as part of the deal due to commence today. The agreement to suspend tariffs on Scotch whisky, cashmere products and construction vehicles was a win for the UK’s enthusiastic trade secretary Liz Truss, and the deal allows the US to focus even more attention on China’s non-market model.
It’s Independence Day in the United States and that means that competitive eaters and fans make their way to New York’s Coney Island for the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Despite last year’s event being held behind closed doors, Major League Eating legend Joey ‘Jaws’ Chestnut retained the coveted Mustard Belt while setting yet another new record – an undeniably impressive 75 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. With New York’s COVID-19 restrictions lifted in time for the competition, spectators can once again cheer on the finalists.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Paul Grover/Pool via Reuters