News diary 10-16 February: Boris Johnson makes first major Cabinet reshuffle

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

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab wraps up a week-long Asia-Pacific trade visit with meetings in Singapore and Malaysia on Monday and Tuesday.

The tour, which also included stops in Australia and Japan, signalled the UK’s intention to strike early post-Brexit trade deals in the region, and came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out bullish terms for any UK agreement with the EU.

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The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch and the Care Quality Commission both face a deadline to submit reports on East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

The reports were requested by the Government, which has so far stopped short of sanctioning a public inquiry following a BBC investigation that found “at least seven preventable baby deaths” at the trust’s maternity wards.

The Government is expected to table new emergency legislation on Tuesday which would prevent the automatic early release of prisoners convicted on terrorism charges.

The proposals are in response to the London Bridge and Streatham terror incidents, which were both carried out by recently-released terror offenders. If the legislation is passed by the House of Commons, the government plans to implement the new rules before the release of Mohammed Zahir Khan, scheduled for the end of this month.

The US presidential race continues with the hotly-anticipated New Hampshire primary. The vote follows a chaotic week of misinformation surrounding the results of the Iowa caucuses, with both Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders declaring victory. Democrats will be hoping to counter Republican accusations of Democratic incompetency and in-fighting with a more conventional process this week.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to address the UN Security Council following the release last month of President Trump’s controversial blueprint to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which Abbas rejected immediately.

The Palestinian leader is said to be planning to meet with an unlikely ally in the form of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert while in New York. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was at the UN Security Council last week, has described the planned meeting as “almost pathetic”.

On Wednesday, Andrew Bailey faces his first parliamentary grilling since being appointed the next governor of the Bank of England, speaking before a Lords committee session on post-Brexit financial services.

While head of the UK’s financial watchdog, Bailey expressed a desire not to see the UK become a “rule-taker”, and his past criticism of EU financial rules would appear to chime with the government’s desire to avoid regulatory alignment after the transition period ends.

The third day of the Church of England General Synod’s winter meeting sees church leaders discuss the rise in “pauper funerals” and the notion of declaring a climate emergency.

The General Synod voted in July 2018 in favour of divesting its holdings in fossil fuel companies that do not adhere to the Paris climate accord by 2023, although this date was pushed back from the Bishop of Oxford’s initial suggestion of fully withdrawing funding by 2020.

The High Court hands down its judgment in a long-running dispute between the British and Iranian governments over a 50-year-old defence deal. The case relates to the sale of Chieftain tanks in the 1970s, with the Iranian government arguing it’s owed hundreds of millions of pounds.

The case has also been drawn into the ongoing diplomatic row over the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, though officials hope a speedy resolution could help to prompt her release.

Boris Johnson’s first major reshuffle is expected to be completed before Parliament rises for half-term recess on Thursday, with several big names reportedly at risk of demotion.

Sajid Javid’s position appears to be safe despite reported tensions between the Chancellor’s camp and the Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings,while rising star Rishi Sunak is among those tipped for a more prominent role.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to begin a two-day visit to Pakistan, which includes an address at a special session of the country’s parliament on Friday. The trip is the latest evidence of the close ties between the two nations, with an agreement on dual nationality for each other’s citizens.

The second leg of the Labour leadership election concludes on Friday with the deadline for CLP and affiliate nominations. Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are assured of places on the final ballot after securing major union support early on, leaving Emily Thornberry, touting herself as a game-raiser for the other candidates at a recent hustings, likely to face an uphill struggle to secure the 33 required constituency party nominations.

The Scottish Conservative Party will have a permanent leader for the first time in six months as the result of its leadership election is declared. Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne are bidding to succeed Ruth Davidson, who resigned in August last year citing concerns over Brexit and a desire to spend more time with her family.

The ill-tempered campaign has seen Ballantyne claim Carlaw is “settling scores and closing down debate” after initially being accused of “lacking ideas or support”.

From Saturday, all broadband, mobile, home phone and pay TV companies in the UK will have to notify their customers when they are reaching the end of their contract.

The regulations, set out by Ofcom in May 2019, also forces companies to tell customers about the best tariffs available, and those who remain out-of-contract will now have to be notified at least annually of the best tariff information for them.

On Sunday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass hosts counterparts on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference for a follow-up to the January Berlin summit on Libya. The meeting comes amid international outrage at the apparent disregard shown by parties to the conflict for undertakings made at the Berlin gathering.

The best players in the NBA gather in Chicago for the annual All-Star Game. LeBron James of the LA Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks captain this year’s teams in a new format intended to honour late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Paul Ellis/Pool via Reuters

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