Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary next week…
Brexit negotiations are scheduled to resume this week, though the atmosphere may be especially frosty in Brussels after a fortnight of mudslinging and mutual recriminations between the two sides.
- February 26, 2021
- February 19, 2021
- February 12, 2021
Earlier this week, an EU official accused the UK of “chasing a fantasy” over its position on customs arrangements, while chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the British were playing hide-and-seek.
The dispute over the Galileo satellite navigation system has also developed into an increasingly poisonous spat, with UK ministers reported to be furious at the UK’s potential exclusion from the project.
On Monday, opening statements begin as Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire gets underway.
While the previous fortnight’s hearings have been dedicated to commemorating the victims of the disaster, Monday’s hearing will see the release of five expert reports into the cause and spread of the blaze and the inadequacy of fire protection in the building.
Opening statements are expected to last for five days, with expert witnesses summoned to give oral evidence on the following Monday.
Another round of border demonstrations is expected on Tuesday when Palestinians commemorate Naksa day, which marks the anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip following victory in the Six-Day War.
Further clashes are likely as the day falls less than a month after more than 50 demonstrators were killed by Israeli troops in the run-up to Nakba day, which commemorates the expulsion of Palestinians following Israeli independence in 1948.
In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn is set to make a speech on the second day of the GMB trade union’s annual congress in Brighton.
The Labour leader is under pressure on several fronts after outgoing Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush claimed last week that Corbyn held anti-Semitic views, while his positions on Brexit and the Irish border continue to face fierce scrutiny.
However, delegates in Brighton may be more concerned with Corbyn’s response to the escalating US trade war and its effect on GMB members’ jobs.
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg visits Downing Street on Wednesday for talks with Theresa May. The chance to exchange some diplomatic niceties should be welcome for the Prime Minister after a recent thaw in Olso’s position on UK membership of the EEA.
Like Corbyn, May is presently facing a battle in every direction. Last week she was warned that “time is running out” in Brexit customs negotiations, the demand for a “sensible” Brexit was voiced by a group of ex-ministers, and news emerged that her old nemesis Michael Gove is part of a secret “dream ticket” backed by anonymous Tory party grandees.
Former Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix returns to face the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Wednesday, after evidence he gave in February to its inquiry into fake news was found to be unsatisfactory.
Nix was recalled and then formally summoned to return before the committee in light of further evidence which was submitted concerning Cambridge Analytica’s business practices and alleged misuse of data.
In another committee return, Home Secretary Sajid Javid is due to face a second grilling on the Windrush deportations scandal, this time before the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
In the wake of last week’s momentous referendum in the Republic of Ireland that saw people vote by 66.4 per cent to 33.6 per cent to overturn the Eighth Amendment, the UK Government faced immediate calls to allow a similar referendum in Northern Ireland.
Such demands could become stronger when the UK Supreme Court rules on Thursday on whether Northern Ireland’s strict abortion laws breach women’s human rights. The prospect of negotiating a well-coordinated backbench challenge to the law while keeping the DUP’s ten MPs happy is a further challenge unlikely to be relished by the Prime Minister.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returns to the United States for the second time since April for talks with Donald Trump on Thursday, and the focus will again be on North Korea and the state of play with plans for denuclearisation in the country after the abrupt cancellation of the planned meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un.
With preparations for the meeting apparently still going ahead, Abe could use his visit as an opportunity to reiterate his desire for “maximum pressure” on the Kim regime.
Leaders from the G7 gather in Canada on Friday for the opening of a summit which is likely to be dominated by the fallout from the imposition last week of steep US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.
With speculation going into the meeting that President Trump’s positions on Iran, North Korea, and climate change had left officials struggling to produce viable joint statements for the leaders to agree, any retaliatory measures from the EU or Canada are likely to leave the grouping even further from consensus.
After hosting the Boao Forum for Asia in April, Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to lead his second major international conference this year when the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation nations, which include Russia and, since last year, India and Pakistan, gather in Qingdao from Saturday.
The meeting will see the signing of a declaration on development in the region, though the real action may be on the sidelines as Xi meets with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is in town on a working visit.
And on Sunday, the annual Al Quds day march takes place in central London. The event typically attracts controversy for allowing Hezbollah flags and anti-Semitic chants, though last year’s march was widely condemned after a speaker blamed “Zionists” for the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Reuters/Pedro Nunes