Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week…
With Brexit done, the task of negotiating the UK’s future relationship begins in earnest this week and Boris Johnson has a big speech on the Government’s aims lined up to mark the start of the UK’s post-EU era.
Securing a withdrawal agreement gave the Prime Minster his 80-seat majority, and effectively managing the second phase of the UK’s exit will be crucial for maintaining the support of the Conservative Party’s newfound base, making this a potentially premiership-defining address for Johnson.
The speech could coincide with the publication on Monday of the EU’s draft negotiating mandate for talks with the UK, which are slated to begin in March. Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will set out European expectations for the post-transition relationship, which reportedly include a demand for the UK to adhere to EU rules in areas including taxation and the environment.
In the US, the process of picking a Democratic nominee to take on President Donald Trump in November formally begins with the Iowa caucuses, which kick off four months of primaries before the Democratic National Convention in July.
The result is still highly unpredictable – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been away from the campaign trail for Trump’s impeachment trial, while Biden has dismissed suggestions that the trial’s focus on his son Hunter might damage his chances in Iowa. The caucuses are considered a significant campaign momentum booster, with the majority of candidates who win going on to become their party’s nominee.
On Tuesday, Trump delivers his State of the Union address, days after he is expected to be acquitted in his impeachment trial. But don’t expect fireworks – Trump’s formal set pieces are typically muted and carefully scripted, and the SOTU is likely to focus mainly on achievements that should appeal to his Republican base as he effectively relaunches his presidential campaign.
The heads of the UK’s major betting firms appear before a Lords committee session on the social impact of gambling. The industry’s influence on English sport has been under increased scrutiny in recent weeks and the executives may find themselves defending their firms’ business models amid warnings from the NHS over the links between problem gambling and poor mental health.
Huawei is likely to loom large at the Royal United Services Institute on Wednesday morning, as former MI5 Head Lord Evans addresses a breakfast briefing on cyber security. His successor Andrew Parker has strongly denied claims that the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationships could be harmed by Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G network.
MPs will have a chance to question Boris Johnson at PMQs on his plans for the future relationship with the EU following Monday’s speeches. Johnson may also face more questions on Huawei, though they could come from his own bench – he is already understood to be facing a Tory rebellion over the Chinese tech giant’s role, and has moved quickly to head off growing tensions with western allies.
Bullying allegations and a bitter row over his blocked peerage threaten to overshadow the publication of John Bercow’s autobiography, Unspeakable, on Thursday. Extracts published in the Guardian revealed Bercow’s disdain for Boris Johnson, and the Prime Minister is thought to be set against ennobling the former Speaker in the forthcoming dissolution honours, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s best efforts.
After an enforced delay to accommodate December’s General Election, the Scottish Government presents its budget at Holyrood. Short of an overall majority, the SNP needs to win the support of the Greens or Conservatives. Both options present obstacles for Finance Secretary Derek Mackay – the Green Party are calling for a “climate emergency budget” while the Conservatives seek assurances around tax rises.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers the keynote address at the Church of England’s annual National Education Conference which comes days after the church was forced to apologise for a widely-criticised statement on sex and relationships. The Duchess of Cambridge, who recently attended an International Holocaust Memorial Day event with the Archbishop, also attends to deliver an interactive workshop.
On Friday, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation publishes its annual report on poverty in the UK, with a focus this year on “how work, housing and social security affect people’s ability to achieve a decent life”. The most recent edition of the report described unacceptable rises in child poverty and suggested that nine children in a typical class of 30 are living in poverty.
Irish voters go to the polls for their first-ever Saturday election. While polls show Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael currently trailing Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail, all eyes are on a “Sinn Fein surge” that could make the party kingmakers in a governing coalition.
Though both Varadkar and Martin have ruled out inviting Sinn Fein into government, the republican party has said it would be willing to support either party in exchange for a commitment to start planning for a referendum on Irish reunification.
The Premier League enters its first winter break after years of demands from managers and players for a mid-season rest. Games are staggered throughout the month following the packed festive schedule, in a move which mirrors similar periods in rival continental competitions.
A busy weekend for the four remaining Labour leadership candidates culminates in a live hustings for Mirror readers hosted by editor Alison Phillips on Sunday.
Rebecca Long-Bailey’s place alongside Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy on the final ballot was confirmed last week so, with the Mirror’s endorsement still up for grabs, impressing the readership (and Phillips) could be crucial for the lagging Emily Thornberry.
And awards season peaks with the Oscars, where The Joker leads the pack with 11 nominations. The Academy is facing now-standard criticism for once again failing to nominate a woman in the Best Director category, with Little Women director Greta Gerwig (pictured) missing out despite the film receiving nominations in six categories including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni