News diary for 25 June-1 July: Windrush 70th anniversary event and crucial Heathrow Commons vote

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

The political week begins with yet another test of Theresa May’s authority as MPs debate Heathrow expansion, with a vote expected to take place at 10pm on Monday night.

The Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), published earlier this month, saw the Government throw its weight behind the construction of a third runway at Heathrow, despite strong objection from locals and environmentalists.

Conservative MPs are split on the issue, with trade minister Greg Hands resigning last Thursday to rebel against his party’s three-line whip. Boris Johnson is another high profile opponent; the Foreign Secretary has said that he would lie down “in front of bulldozers” if a third runway was approved, but speculation has been rife that Johnson will be allowed to slink off on a foreign trip to avoid the vote.

Labour are also divided on the issue: the party’s trade union backers are broadly in favour, but Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency is home to the airport, is a longstanding opponent. To avoid a split, the party leadership has allowed MPs a free vote on the NPS. The support of Labour’s pro-Heathrow MPs and the backing of the Scottish National Party should neuter any challenge by Conservative rebels.

Before MPs sit down to vote, a ruling is expected in an appeal by Uber against Transport for London’s decision to strip it of a licence to operate in London. Last September TfL made headlines worldwide when it refused to renew Uber’s London licence, citing a failure to report criminal offences or carry out proper background checks on drivers.

Judging the firm to be not “fit and proper”, TfL also claimed that Uber was deceiving regulators using “Greyball” software which allegedly presented inspectors with a fake version of the app in order to deny them service. Uber has said that it will take its appeal to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Over in Brussels, Europe’s defence and foreign ministers will gather for the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting. The main events will be appearances by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who will likely be discussing the US’s accusations that EU nations do not pull their weight in the alliance, and the UN’s Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. Stoltenberg used a speech in London last week to talk up Britain’s role and the transatlantic bond but he may still use this opportunity to ensure that all EU partners remain committed to the alliance.

Tensions between Russia and the West could be ramped up on Tuesday at a special session of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The UK, supported by 64 other OCPW states, called the two-day session earlier this month in response to the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yuliya in Salisbury.

Britain accuses Russia of carrying out a nerve agent attack on its soil, and wants to give the international body greater powers to take action against states using chemical weapons. Russia continues to deny responsibility for the attack and opposes the convening of today’s session.

Following on from yesterday’s Foreign Affairs Council, the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, is set to give his final update on the progress of negotiations with the UK before EU leaders gather on June 29. The meeting comes after the UK finally announced the process for EU citizens to apply for “settled status” after Brexit, though with rows rumbling on future relations in areas such as finance and security, there’s much for Barnier to discuss.

On the same day, ballot papers for elections to Labour’s ruling executive, the NEC, are issued. As always, candidates are roughly split into pro- and anti-Corbyn slates, with a handful of independents (including comedian Eddie Izzard) also in the running.

As it stands, the pro-Corbyn, Momentum-backed faction leads the way in Constituency Labour Party nominations, and looks likely to almost sweep the board, strengthening the left’s control of the party apparatus.

On Wednesday, Tony Blair delivers an address on globalisation to Chatham House, and it follows a string of recent public appearances which the former Prime Minister has used to vociferously criticise both the Government and Labour for their positions on Brexit.

Blair has previously said that his former party should back a second referendum on Brexit, and used an interview with a German newspaper earlier this month to criticise Donald Trump and the growing appeal of authoritarian leadership styles.

In addition to Theresa May’s weekly round of PMQs, today’s Commons agenda includes the second reading of the Offensive Weapons Bill. The proposed legislation aims to impose restrictions on the online sale of knives and acid while also banning the possession of so-called “zombie knives”. The Bill has been brought forward in the wake of concerns over the dramatic increase in violent crime across London so far this year.

On Thursday, leaders from all 27 EU nations convene in Brussels for the two-day European Council. One of the main items on the agenda will be migration and the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Migration is a major source of division within the EU, with governments in Italy, Greece and Poland increasingly taking an extremely hard line against migration.

Angela Merkel is also under pressure from the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU. CSU interior minister Horst Seehofer has given Merkel until July 1 to find a solution before border police begin turning away migrants at the border. An emergency “informal working meeting” of EU heads of government, hastily scheduled last week, is unlikely to have fully resolved the issue.

Prince William continues a visit to the Middle East with events in Palestine today, when the highlights are a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and an address at a Jerusalem reception being hosted by the Consul General.

And England’s Group G campaign at the 2018 World Cup reaches its climax on Thursday as Gareth Southgate’s men take on Belgium. Today’s game is likely to be a battle to determine who tops the group, with both sides favourites to progress to the knock-out rounds having won their opening games.

The EU summit continues on Friday, with UK Prime Minister Theresa May departing to allow the remaining 27 member states to discuss Brexit negotiations. Barnier is scheduled to give an update, while the agenda also includes discussion on the UK’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill and the upcoming White Paper on the future relationship with the European Union. President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker will take part in a closing press conference at 1.30pm.

On Saturday, an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Windrush is opened by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Meanwhile in Llandudno, Wales, the Princess Royal attends a national celebration event to mark Armed Forces Day, while in Fife a Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland march is led by DUP leader Arlene Foster.

And on Sunday, elections in Mexico take place, with incumbent Enrique Pena Nieto term-limited and unable to stand. The favourite is leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City who is seen as a Corbyn-style reformist who could challenge Donald Trump while emulating his populist electoral success.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Matthew Childs

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