Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week…
Boris Johnson has promised a “comprehensive plan” this week for lifting the UK’s lockdown, with details on a timeline for re-opening schools and businesses expected to be finalised when the government reviews the measures on Thursday.
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Officials will be keeping a close eye on our European neighbours: Italy, Germany, Belgium, Greece and Poland are all lifting some measures today. Italians will be allowed to visit relatives living regionally and get takeaways, while some German students will return to school, despite concern over slight increases in the R-rate in both Germany and Denmark since some restrictions were lifted.
The EU hosts the Coronavirus Global Response Summit, an online pledging conference aiming to raise £7bn for the development and deployment of a Covid-19 vaccine.
The summit is co-hosted by the UK, France, Germany, Norway and Saudi Arabia, and is supported by global organisations including the World Health Organization. The US is noticeably absent from the line-up following Washington’s decision to veto a G20 health ministers’ cooperation plan over its apparent support for the WHO’s response to the pandemic.
The winners of the Pulitzer Prizes are announced. With reporting on the coronavirus not included until next year, the awards may serve as a reminder of life before the pandemic: the impeachment of President Trump, the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, and the Afghanistan Papers, as well as terror attacks and mass shootings, are among notable moments of 2019 that could feature in the awards for journalism.
Committee session of the week features government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries being quizzed by Jeremy Hunt’s health committee on management of the coronavirus outbreak. Coming two days before lockdown restrictions are reviewed, the session will be closely watched for any hint as to the government’s thinking on a potential reduction to current measures, with the pair also likely to face questions on SAGE briefings, testing capacity and vaccines.
The Office for National Statistics publishes its weekly figures detailing deaths registered in England and Wales, including those outside of hospitals. Last week’s release revealed that the number of deaths may be twice as high as previously thought, prompting the government to announce that it would begin to include care home deaths in its daily statistics.
The Department for Education also releases its weekly pandemic statistics listing school attendance rates across the UK. Recent figures suggest that only one in 20 vulnerable children are turning up to school, and the Children’s Commissioner for England has published a report warning that as a result of low attendance and the ongoing isolation measures, vulnerable children are slipping through the cracks and being put at risk.
It’s been a week of firsts for Boris Johnson – after welcoming his first child with fiancée Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister fronted his first coronavirus press briefing since recovering from Covid-19, and gave the first indications of his impending strategy to begin gradually lifting the UK’s lockdown.
That theme continues on Wednesday as he faces new Labour leader Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions for the first time. Starmer has impressed against stand-in PM Dominic Raab, but the return of Johnson to the despatch box ups the ante on both sides of the aisle. Starmer is likely to press for further answers on the government’s coronavirus response and the impending exit strategy, while Johnson will look to show he’s got the measure of the new opposition.
The ONS publishes two new sets of statistics on the impact of global coronavirus containment efforts on GDP and employment in the UK, which, given recent trends, may not make for the most encouraging reading.
As think tanks continue to warn that job numbers and revenue will suffer for some time to come, the data may give an indication of how much economic damage is being done ahead of the next quarterly growth figures on 12 May.
Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s first birthday may present a dilemma for tabloid editors after Harry and Meghan’s announcement last month that diplomatic relations would be broken off. New official images are traditionally released on royal infants’ birthdays – will parts of Fleet Street choose to boycott the photo-friendly occasion?
The Duchess of Sussex lost the first round of her legal battle with the tabloids on 1 May after the High Court ruled parts of her case against the Mail on Sunday must be struck out.
Ministers are due to review the UK’s lockdown regulations, deciding whether a further extension is needed for measures that have confined most of the population to their homes since 26 March. Announcing the first extension last month, Dominic Raab said that the restrictions would be in place for “at least” the mandated three additional weeks, and though death rates have fallen since then, there is still concern over a potential second wave of infections if restrictions are eased too soon.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has led the calls for the government to publish an exit plan before considering an end to the lockdown, though, as Raab himself said, some form of social distancing is almost certainly here to stay.
The Bank of England releases an interim Financial Stability Report on the health of the UK banking system, two months before a scheduled July release, amid a “very sharply” declining economic situation, according to the committee which produces the report.
The FSR will also consider the measures taken by the Bank and the Treasury to inoculate the economy in recent weeks, which the OBR estimated last week had cost around £105bn in cash terms. The FSR is released on the same day as the quarterly Monetary Policy Report, which is usually accompanied by a Governor press conference, and the latest MPC interest rate decision.
British Airways parent company IAG posts a likely devastating update on its finances as the global aviation industry continues to be crippled by the Covid-19 outbreak.
A preliminary results statement on 28 April made for stark reading – the company has reported losses of more than £460m since the start of 2020, and warned that more than a quarter of the British Airways workforce could now face redundancy. The results follow on from sobering comments made by leading manufacturers who claim the industry could take five years to emerge from the crisis.
The UK marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day with considerably more muted celebrations than the revised bank holiday and extended pub licensing hours intended.
The Queen is the focal point of commemorations, with a televised address at 9pm, while Boris Johnson will deliver remarks alongside a broadcast of Sir Winston Churchill’s victory speech from 75 years ago, and the Prince of Wales will recite extracts of George VI’s diary from 8 May, 1945.
There will be a different mood across the pond, where the US Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its monthly employment report. With over 30m Americans having filed for unemployment over the past six weeks, the report is expected to provide a concerning picture of the overall impact of the pandemic on the jobs market, with some predicting an unemployment rate of up to 20 per cent.
Pressure has been mounting to end lockdowns and return to normality, though as some states begin to reopen, they may reveal the human cost of economic recovery.
Russia celebrates its 75th Victory Day despite the country still being on lockdown. The usual Red Square parade, which this year was to have included several world leaders, has been postponed in favour of a social distancing-friendly air show broadcast to the nation.
While Russia is due to start easing lockdown measures next week, its coronavirus cases have not yet peaked, surging past 100,000 on the same day that its Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced he had tested positive for the virus.
Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi faces a deadline for parliamentary approval of a cabinet and government programme that would end months of political stalemate in the country.
MPs have been unable to agree a replacement for Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who resigned in December after months of protests. Al-Kadhimi will be hoping it’s third time lucky, after two previous appointees failed to garner enough support to form a government.
Poland is due to hold a presidential poll on Sunday that has been called a “pseudo-election” by nine former national leaders, who have urged a boycott of the vote. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, led by Andrezj Duda, have refused to delay the election amid the pandemic, instead planning for an all-postal ballot despite the fact that legislation to make such a vote legal has still not been passed by parliament.
The European Commission has expressed a “serious concern” that the vote will not be “free and fair”, and there is speculation it could yet be delayed by several weeks to allow the legislation to pass and postal ballots to be properly distributed.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire