Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week…
The most anticipated event this week is the publication of the Government’s Brexit White Paper, which is expected to outline Britain’s objectives for negotiations with the European Union.
- February 28, 2020
- February 21, 2020
- February 14, 2020
The plans, touted by some for release on Thursday, were due to be thrashed out by the Cabinet at a Chequers away day on Friday, and though full details are yet to be revealed, reports suggest that Theresa May favours an altered version of the “customs partnership” model already rejected by the EU.
Known as the “facilitated customs arrangement”, the agreement would see the UK collect tariffs on behalf of the EU, theoretically allowing frictionless border traffic, before using new technology to refund traders whose goods are destined to remain in UK.
Whether the proposal will wash with the European Commission is anything but certain, and May faced an uphill struggle to clear it with her divided Cabinet: Brexit Secretary David Davis reportedly referred to the plans as “unworkable”.
On Monday, Donald Trump announces his nomination to replace US Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, who retires on July 31. The furore over the nomination has intensified lately because Trump’s pick, his second since taking office, could establish conservative dominance over the court for a generation.
For the past 13 years Kennedy’s vote has been key in several landmark rulings on gay rights, and liberals fear that his replacement could be the prelude to attempts to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling which established a legal right to abortion. Among those tipped for the nomination is Amy Coney Barrett, a staunch conservative and devout Catholic who has already drawn criticism from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein appears in court to face three new sexual misconduct charges, including one count of a forcible sexual act and two counts of predatory sexual assault on a third unnamed woman. Weinstein first appeared in court charged with three sexual offences in May, and pleaded not guilty to all the allegations on 5 June.
On Tuesday, the UK’s Royal Air Force celebrates its centenary. The service was formed through the amalgamation of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps towards the end of the First World War, and the day’s commemorative events include a service at Westminster Abbey and a parade and flypast at Buckingham Palace, with senior Government and military figures likely to be in attendance.
On the same day, the UK hosts the Western Balkans Summit, an annual gathering of the leaders of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia and selected EU nations. Initiated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit was intended to promote cooperation on regional security and economic matters, though this year’s event will also serve as an opportunity for the Theresa May and her ministers to assert some influence among non-EU nations.
The first World Cup semi-final takes place at the 67,000-seater Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, with Uruguay or France facing off against Brazil or Belgium. The second, potentially featuring England if they beat Sweden this weekend, will be played at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday, and would see Gareth Southgate’s team take on Russia or Croatia.
On Wednesday, NATO leaders gather in Brussels for the group’s annual summit. The meeting is being touted as a litmus test for the Trump administration’s commitment to the alliance, with the President having used the past week to vociferously criticise his allies for failing to increase their defence spending.
The US President’s position was strengthened by a UK Defence Committee report at the end of last month in which MPs called for defence spending to be pushed closer to 3 per cent in order to maintain the UK’s global influence, while Trump’s secretary of defence Jim Mattis took the unusual step of writing to his counterpart Gavin Williamson to express concern over the state of the UK’s military spending.
The weekly round of Prime Minister’s Questions also takes place in the House of Commons from noon, though Theresa May’s place at the dispatch box is likely to be taken by David Lidington due to her NATO commitment in Brussels. Other items on the House of Commons agenda include a debate on Universal Credit, a week after Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey faced accusations she misled MPs over the criticisms of Universal Credit.
The European Court of Justice is expected to hand down its judgment on Thursday in a challenge brought by the Austrian Government over the construction and operation of the Hinkley Point nuclear facility. The legal action, which began in 2015, concerns the European Commission’s sign off on the deal, which Austria argues will distort the energy market. Their case centres on the claim that subsidies should not be used to help fund nuclear power.
The Police Federation’s annual Police Bravery Awards, which celebrate the courage of police officers from around the country, also take place on Thursday. The event is typically attended by the Home Secretary, and soon after his appointment Sajid Javid told the Police Federation conference in May that one of his main goals is to “reset” the often fractious relationship between ministers and the policing community.
The Battle of the Boyne anniversary is marked across Northern Ireland, where thousands of people traditionally take to the streets for parades and marches. The largest procession is expected to be in the village of Loughgall, where the Orange Institution was founded in 1795. Tensions have flared in the build up to the parades amid suggestions that Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald would be invited – an offer which was ultimately not extended.
After Parliamentary debates, several delays and the odd threat of cancellation, Donald Trump begins his long-awaited working visit to the UK on Friday. His schedule is expected to include the desired meeting with The Queen and a visit to Chequers for talks with Theresa May, though there are suggestions that the visiting party will not spend much time in London to avoid the many scheduled protests in the capital. Highlights include an all-night rave and a giant inflatable baby.
On Saturday, Trump is expected to make the trip north to Scotland for a visit to his golf course at Turnberry, though there are plenty more protests to dodge on the way. UK Treasury Minister Liz Truss promised last week to pay the estimated £5m cost of policing Trump’s stay in Scotland.
In Durham, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses the annual Miners’ Gala, traditionally the largest gathering of trade unionists held in the UK. The event, which celebrates the history and solidarity of the mining profession, involves a procession, marching bands and a rally. Corbyn is joined by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby and TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.
Further south, the Wimbledon ladies’ singles final takes place, and it would be no shock to see Serena Williams contesting yet another final after the early exits last week by 2017 champion Garbiñe Muguruza and UK favourite Jo Konta.
There is also football action today with the World Cup third place playoff, while in Washington former England captain Wayne Rooney is expected to make his MLS debut for DC United.
On Sunday, passengers on Thameslink and Great Northern service may be wise to expect yet more disruption as the third timetable change in less than two months takes effect. Govia Thameslink Railway, the service operator, has reportedly been warned that it could be stripped of its franchise if the service does not stabilise once the new timetable has been introduced.
And at Wimbledon it’s the men’s singles final, though that match may be overshadowed by the small fact that it seems to be coming home.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Reuters/Joshua Roberts