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News diary 8-14 July: UK hosts first global media freedom conference and Tory leadership rivals face ITV and Telegraph scrutiny

Tory leadership election

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

The Conservative leadership election moves into the home straight this week as Tory members receive their ballot papers. Current polling shows Boris Johnson maintaining a healthy lead over Jeremy Hunt, and the week ahead is crucial to the Foreign Secretary’s efforts to close the gap and win over undecided voters.

The first opportunity for Hunt and Johnson to impress this week comes in Monday evening’s live interviews with Telegraph journalists Allison Pearson and Camilla Tominey.

Both candidates have made fresh pitches to woo the party membership ahead of the event: Johnson has pledged a police recruitment drive and Hunt has aired proposals to build extra homes aimed at young people.

The inquest into the death of former Welsh Government Minister Carl Sargeant resumes in Ruthin, in a hearing which is expected to conclude on Friday.

The former Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children was found dead at his home in November 2017, just days after he was dismissed from the cabinet in the wake of misconduct allegations.

The fallout from Sargeant’s death continues to reverberate across the Welsh political scene, with the High Court recently ruling that Carwyn Jones acted unlawfully in making arrangements for a formal inquiry. The former First Minister is expected to give evidence at the inquest over the course of the week.

The first and possibly only televised debate between the two men vying to become the next prime minister is hosted by ITV on Tuesday.

Aside from the obvious topic, Johnson and Hunt are also likely to face questions on proposals to review the so-called “sugar tax”, the social care crisis, future public spending plans, and social reforms.

Hunt has been critical of a planned BBC debate on 16 July, describing it as an “absolute joke” that would have “zero influence” on the result, as most members will have already cast their votes.

Iconic broadcaster Sir David Attenborough appears before the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee to answer questions on climate change and the government’s net zero target.

The celebrated naturalist made a surprise appearance at last month’s Glastonbury festival, delivering an impassioned speech to thousands of revellers on plastic waste and ocean conservation.

The UK is the first major global economy to legislate towards a greenhouse gas emissions level of “net zero” by 2050, though some commentators have warned that widespread changes across housing, energy, transport, and social sectors will need to be implemented in order to achieve the target.

The first semi-final of the Cricket World Cup takes place at Manchester’s Old Trafford ground, with Australia and New Zealand likely facing off for a place in the weekend final. The second knock-out match on Thursday sees England play their first semi-final since 1992, with a tournament rematch against India on the cards.

Taking a break from his bid to become the next prime minister, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt co-hosts the Global Conference for Media Freedom with his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday.

The conference focuses on press freedom from censorship, imprisonment, personal attacks and abuse, and comes on the heels of the announcement of a three-year, £9m UK-led fund to support independent media in Ukraine. The FCO’s Special Envoy for Media Freedom Amal Clooney is among attendees.

Over in the House of Commons, the Home Affairs Select Committee questions Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on progress since the Macpherson Report, 20 years after the findings of the groundbreaking inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence was published.

The former High Court judge Lord Macpherson found that the murder investigation was marred by “professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership” and set out a number of policies to combat institutionalised racism in public bodies, including targets for black and minority ethnic recruitment.

Dick is expected to be questioned on the extent to which the Met has met any of the 70 relevant recommendations made by Sir William Macpherson.

NatCen publishes the findings of the latest British Social Attitudes Survey at a launch event in Westminster on Thursday with political scientist and electoral guru Professor John Curtice and MP Stella Creasy.

This year’s survey focuses on people’s attitudes to religion and belief, science, poverty, sex and gender, and our “shifting political identities”. Previous releases have focused heavily on Brexit, with a 2018 survey unveiling that although only 8 per cent of Britons would consider themselves a “very strong” supporter of a political party, 40 per cent are either a ‘very strong Remainer’ or a “very strong Leaver”.

Over on Threadneedle Street, the Bank of England publishes its biannual Financial Stability Report, which analyses the near-term prospects for the financial system.

The report will theoretically be the last published before the 31 October Brexit deadline, and comes after the Bank of England issued a warning following the high-profile suspension of the Woodford Equity Income Fund that a lack of confidence in illiquid assets could begin a mass sell that destabilises the global financial system.

Thursday also marks 160 years since the Great Bell housed at the north of the Houses of Parliament (otherwise known as Big Ben) began tolling on 11 July, 1859. The bell stopped chiming in August 2017 while repairs are being carried out, and won’t ring again until 2021, except for during important national events and holidays.

The US Government is required to file a report by Friday detailing efforts to address conditions at border facilities in Texas after reports emerged in June of detained children being underfed and denied toothbrushes and soap.

Amid widespread public outcry and high-profile visits to the camps, a group of lawyers brought a lawsuit against the US Attorney General seeking inspection of facilities and access for independent medical professionals. The judge set today’s deadline for US officials to produce a status report on the work being done to improve conditions for children at the southern border.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on the House of Representatives’ main investigative committee have invited the heads of the Department for Homeland Security and Customs and Border Commission to testify today at a hearing on the treatment of immigrant children.

As well as the reported overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at detention centres, the committee said it would question Kevin McAleenan and Mark Morgan about distasteful posts made in a secret Facebook group by current and former Border Patrol agents.

The penultimate round of hustings takes place in the Conservative leadership contest on Saturday with two events in the east of England. Party members began receiving ballots over the weekend of 6-7 July, so by this stage in the race Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt may find themselves merely preaching to the converted.

With the rest of the country watching on, any last-minute pitches for votes are still likely to be noted for pledges that may not prove to be universally popular once the contest is done.

The women’s competition at Wimbledon concludes, with British hopes at time of writing again resting on Johanna Konta after an early exit for Heather Watson. But the story of this year’s tournament was arguably decided on the opening day following the stunning victory for 15-year-old American Cori Gauff over five-time winner Venus Williams.

The week wraps up with a bumper day for domestic sport on Sunday, with fans able to choose between the British Grand Prix, the finals of the Cricket World Cup and the Wimbledon men’s final.

It’s highly unlikely that a Brit will be on Centre Court with Andy Murray confined to doubles action this year, but F1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton should be confident of a fifth victory in six years after last year’s second place finish at Silverstone, and England could yet become the first European nation to lift the ICC trophy at Lord’s.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Peter Powell/Pool

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1 thought on “News diary 8-14 July: UK hosts first global media freedom conference and Tory leadership rivals face ITV and Telegraph scrutiny”

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