Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Monday 1 November
Following the procedural opening of negotiations yesterday, COP26 gets going with a two-day World Leaders’ Summit, giving politicians the chance to set out their countries’ climate action ambitions. Speakers today include US President Joe Biden, who has promised a “major statement on behalf of the United States”. Today’s agenda also includes a diplomatic reception attended by the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; The Queen is notably absent, having “regretfully” decided not to attend the conference following a recent hospital stay and medical advice to rest.
Having splashed the cash in his Budget statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak will be expected to dig down further into the detail on Monday as he fields questions from MPs on the Treasury Committee. Central to the Chancellor’s post-Covid economic vision is an enormous increase in government spending to the tune of some £150 billion, complemented by sustained reductions in national borrowing. But despite the best attempts of the Conservative front bench, the new fiscal plans have raised alarm in some quarters: the Institute for Fiscal Studies warns the Budget will cause “real pain” for low-income households, while the Resolution Foundation says middle-income families could stand to lose £3,000 per year.
The US Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Texas’ near-total abortion ban. The rare, expedited hearing will assess whether abortion providers and the Department of Justice may challenge the controversial six-week ban in court. The plaintiffs argue that the unusual structure of the law, which puts enforcement in the hands of individuals, is deliberately designed to avoid judicial review. Though the hearing does not directly review the constitutionality of the law, an issue that will be addressed in a landmark case next month, the eventual ruling will set an important precedent for other states using Texas as a blueprint for their own restrictive measures.
New measures announced by the French government last week in the ongoing row over post-Brexit fishing rights are set to come into effect, days after Jersey’s transitional arrangement allowing unlicensed French boats to fish in its waters ended. The new measures, which include a ban on British and Channel Islands fishing boats offloading their catch at French ports and intensified controls at Calais and other entry points, follow the seizure last week of a British trawler, which French authorities claimed did not have the right to fish in French waters. With the French warning that further actions could follow, including reducing electricity supplies to Jersey, and the UK promising an “appropriate and calibrated response”, the spat looks set to continue for at least a little while longer.
A day after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen addresses the Web Summit taking place in Lisbon, former deputy PM turned Facebook (er, Meta) defender-in-chief Nick Clegg is due to take to the podium – ostensibly to discuss how the company “is putting Europe at the heart of its plans for responsible innovation”, though the “ask him anything” Q&A afterwards is likely to focus almost entirely on the scandal currently engulfing the tech giant. Haugen has a host of public appearances planned over the coming days, meaning Clegg will no doubt have further opportunities to earn his reported £2.7 million salary.
Voters head to the polls across the United States to cast their ballots in municipal and state-wide elections. Though Virginia’s surprisingly close gubernatorial race has dominated political punditry, the results of down-ballot races across the country will have a significant impact on everything from policing reform and school curriculums to abortion rights and vaccine mandates. Notable races include the historic mayoral race in Boston between two women of colour, and Buffalo, New York where long-time Mayor Byron Brown is running as a write-in candidate after suffering a primary defeat against democratic socialist India Walton.
A pre-trial hearing takes place in the case brought against Prince Andrew by Virginia Giuffre, who has accused the prince of repeatedly sexually abusing her when she was 17. The hearing follows an assertion by Andrew’s lawyer that the prince is protected from all liability under a sealed agreement reached between Giuffre and the late Jeffrey Epstein in 2009. The defence is hoping to use the purported agreement in its effort to have the case dismissed. Last week, the judge ordered Andrew to sit for a deposition by July 2022. The hearing comes just weeks before the Duke’s alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell goes on trial in New York on sex trafficking charges.
The winner of the prestigious Booker Prize is announced, with South African Damon Galgut’s The Promise the current bookies’ favourite to take home the £50,000 prize. This year’s prize has thus far been spared the controversy that has dogged it in recent years, despite only having one British nominee (British-Somali Nadifa Mohamed) for the second year running. The shortlist also includes three American authors, Maggie Shipstead, Richard Powers, and Patricia Lockwood, nominated for her debut novel, as well as Sri Lankan Anuk Arudpragasam.
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meets amid intense speculation that it will become the first major central bank to raise interest rates, increasing the base rate from 0.1 per cent to 0.25 per cent. The potential rise has already seen mortgage rates increase, and the higher cost of borrowing comes as households are already feeling the pinch from higher energy prices and rising inflation. The Bank also publishes its quarterly Monetary Policy Report, which will give some insight into the committee’s inflation expectations after the Office for Budget Responsibility warned that CPI could rise to four per cent next year.
The Royal College of Nursing, the UK’s largest nursing union, opens a ballot to consult members on whether to take industrial action over the latest NHS pay offer of a three per cent increase. Despite Rishi Sunak announcing an end to the public sector pay freeze in his Spending Review, the Chancellor has offered no guarantees that the rise will be above inflation, meaning any increase will fall short of the RCN’s 12.5 percent pay rise demand for nursing staff.
Ali Harbi Ali appears at the Old Bailey in a preliminary hearing as he awaits trial for the murder of MP Sir David Amess. Opening the inquest into the Southend West MP’s death, a coroner revealed that medics battled to save the 69-year-old for more than an hour before he eventually succumbed to his injuries. A funeral service is planned for 23 November at Westminster Cathedral.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg joins the Climate Strike march taking place in Glasgow today, organised by Fridays for Future Scotland. The Swedish environmental superstar, whose assessment that world leaders were all “Blah, blah, blah” appears to have been at least partly supported by Prince Charles, had previously threatened to boycott COP26 altogether over vaccine inequality. Her assessment of the first week of the climate gathering is certain to be closely watched.
In what is perhaps the most anticipated comeback in pop music history, Swedish pop giants ABBA release their first new record since 1981’s The Visitors. Despite their enduring popularity spawning decades-long musical shows and two films, songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson have confirmed that Voyage is the last new music the band will release. Fans not sated by the films or the stage show can belt out the classics at the purpose-built ABBA Arena in London from 27 May, when the band begins a four-year virtual residency.
A blockbuster weekend of sport begins in Manchester where United and City meet in a derby clash which could ultimately prove decisive for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Old Trafford future. The Manchester United manager remains under intense pressure after their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool, leaving his side without a win in the Premier League since 19 September. A victory would go a long way to placating the fans and the Manchester United hierarchy, particularly with the likes of Antonio Conte waiting in the wings.
In rugby union, England kick off their autumn series as they welcome Tonga to Twickenham. Eddie Jones has swung the axe for the end of year internationals, dispensing with seasoned campaigners George Ford, Elliot Daly, and the Vunipola brothers as he builds towards the 2023 World Cup. Elsewhere, Wales’ British and Irish Lions get an opportunity for revenge as they welcome South Africa to Cardiff, while Scotland continue their campaign against Australia on Sunday.
Sunday 7 November
The People’s Summit for Climate Change gets underway, with panel discussions, debates and meetings taking place until 10 November. The hybrid in-person and virtual summit is organised by the COP26 Coalition, bringing together high-profile charities and NGOs such as Greenpeace and Christian Aid with grassroots activists and aiming to provide an alternative to the “business as usual of false solutions and inaction from rich nations and corporations”.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: PA Wire/Andrew Milligan