Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
There will be plenty to discuss when G7 foreign and development ministers arrive in London for three days of talks hosted by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Ministers are expected to focus on the situation in Russia amid concern over the treatment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and recent reports on Moscow’s clandestine operations abroad; China’s treatment of the Uighurs of Xinjiang, its crackdown on opposition in Hong Kong, and growing maritime assertiveness; the appalling situation in Myanmar following the 1 February coup; and relations with Iran. In addition to the formal meeting, which opens on Tuesday, Raab has several one-to-ones scheduled, including with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. The visit is Blinken’s first since taking up his post, and he’ll also meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson before heading on to Ukraine.
- April 23, 2021
- April 16, 2021
- April 9, 2021
Northern Ireland marks its centenary, with socially distanced events taking place to commemorate the last 100 years that have shaped the country’s social and political landscape. The anniversary comes at a volatile time for the country amid ongoing sectarian tensions, the resignation of First Minister Arlene Foster and the knock-on effect this could have on future power-sharing and governance in Belfast.
James Davis appears at Wolverhampton Crown Court charged over the death of two-week-old Ciaran Leigh Morris on Easter Sunday. Davis is charged with causing death by dangerous driving and driving a car without insurance after allegedly colliding with the infant’s pram as he was being taken for his first outing in the Brownhills area of Walsall. He was remanded into custody at an initial court hearing last month.
In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu faces a deadline to form a government after the 23 March elections, the fourth in less than two years. The embattled acting Prime Minister, whose corruption trial is ongoing, has struggled to secure the backing of his former chief of staff and current New Right (Yamina) party leader Naftali Bennett, and his prospects forming a government are looking increasingly precarious.
An Indian and South African-led proposal to waive certain intellectual property rights to ensure developing nations can access vaccines is due for further discussion at the latest meeting of the WTO’s TRIPS council. The proposal is backed by more than 100 WTO members but has so far been resisted by some of the group’s larger trading powers, including the US, UK, and European Union. Remarks by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai following meetings with senior representatives from AstraZeneca and Pfizer suggest that the US administration’s position could change before the proposal is considered by the full WTO council in May.
UK Ambassador to the US Karen Pierce takes part in a virtual discussion with the Wilson Center on global Britain and the future of the UK’s security, defence, development and foreign policy, focused on the Integrated Review. Pierce has made a point of reinforcing the UK’s role as “the US’s closest ally” and will likely want to continue to focus on areas like China and Russia where the two countries’ priorities are aligned. She may be less keen to discuss development policy, where the UK’s cut in overseas aid is being criticised for undermining the government’s global leadership push ahead of June’s G7 Summit.
The postponement of local elections in 2020 means it’s a bumper day on the political calendar, with voters going to the polls across Britain. In England, elections take place in 143 council areas, in 13 regions with directly-elected mayors including Greater Manchester, Liverpool, the West Midlands and London, and to the capital’s 25-seat Assembly. There are also ballots for 39 Police and Crime Commissioners and a crucial by-election thrown into the mix on what’s sure to be a fascinating day for poll watchers up and down the country.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stakes the future of Scottish independence on winning at least 65 of the country’s 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament elections. With an SNP majority “on a knife edge” according to pollsters, the SNP could be supported in a coalition by the independence-backing Scottish Green Party if they fall short. It’s also unclear whether former First Minister Alex Salmond’s Alba Party will have a net positive or negative impact in gaining a fabled “super-majority” for independence.
Voters in Wales cast their ballots with the country’s long-term recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic the principal issue. Despite wildly different polling throughout the campaign, Labour seem on course to remain the largest party in the Senedd and hand Mark Drakeford a second term as First Minister. The main concern for Plaid Cymru will be whether record levels of support for the independence movement can be converted to tangible votes at the ballot box, while the Conservatives aim to capitalise on an apparent drop in support for UKIP, who performed strongly in 2016.
The disruptive effects of the pandemic on election planning didn’t end with last year’s postponement – reduced numbers at vote counts and longer waits for declarations are the norm for 2021. Counts in the London Mayoral and Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd elections only begin on Friday morning, by which time voters in Hartlepool will know the identity of their new MP and results from some councils should begin to emerge. The result of the Tees Valley Mayoral election could be announced late in the day after a count begins at 2pm, while the makeup of the new Welsh Parliament could also be revealed before the weekend.
British Airways parent company International Airlines Group publishes its first quarter results with more grim numbers expected as international travel remains largely paused. The company lost €7.4 billion in 2020, including €1.4 billion in Q4, when passenger numbers were at around a quarter of 2019 levels; IAG was planning for about 20 per cent capacity in Q1, meaning further significant losses are likely. There may be cautious optimism for some recovery this summer following various announcements on European summer holidays and vaccine passport programmes getting underway.
It’s set to be an important day for the Labour Party with results from three of the most significant mayoral elections due. Sadiq Khan (pictured) and Andy Burnham will hear if they’ve won second terms in the top jobs in London and Greater Manchester respectively, while former cabinet minister Liam Byrne will find out if his bid to take the West Midlands from Conservative Andy Street has been successful in the early evening. Meanwhile the picture north of the border and the effect of the Sturgeon-Salmond dynamic on their parties’ fortunes will start to become clear today, though a full national result may not arrive until Sunday. Results from the West of England and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral votes are also due today.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among high-profile virtual attendees at Global Citizen’s Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World. The pre-recorded concert, intended to encourage vaccine take-up and ensure global vaccine equity, takes place with a live audience of vaccinated essential workers. The concert comes amid the devastating surge in cases in India, demonstrating both the vulnerability of low-income countries, which have received just 0.2% of the world vaccine supply, and the inescapable interconnectedness of a global recovery from the pandemic.
By today we’ll know who will lead the next governments in Scotland and Wales, who will be the figureheads for some of the most politically significant English regions, and which party will be celebrating most of those cherished gains. The result of the final metro mayoral election, featuring former shadow cabinet member Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire, is due to be announced this evening.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire