Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Monday (14 June)
As the UK inches closer to the end of the government’s road to recovery, ministers are due to announce whether the final set of changes to coronavirus restrictions will come into effect as planned on 21 June. The weeks leading up to today’s announcement have seen the usual mix of caution from the science community and pleas for clarity from businesses, while vociferous backbenchers continued to put pressure on the Prime Minister to unlock the country next week. With the Indian variant still causing significant concern, however, consensus appears to be forming around the need for a further delay.
NATO leaders, including US President Joe Biden, gather in Brussels for their first summit since Biden took office. The meeting comes amid the ongoing drawdown of alliance troops in Afghanistan, despite the Afghan government and Taliban failing to reach a political settlement. A stark reminder of the fragile situation in the country was provided last week when at least 10 workers from de-mining charity The Halo Trust were executed in their beds by members of an Afghan ISIS affiliate.
Biden holds his first in-person talks with Turkish President Erdogan on the margins of the summit.
Northern Ireland prepares for another shift in its political landscape as Democratic Unionist Party MLA Paul Givan is formally appointed as First Minister. Givan takes over from departing FM Arlene Foster and is likely align himself with the more traditional conservative DUP policies of his former mentor and new party leader Edwin Poots. His appointment could yet be scuppered by the DUP’s governing partners, Sinn Féin, who may refuse to approve his nomination without concrete assurances on Irish language legislation, which could collapse their power sharing agreement and plunge the country back into a political crisis.
The independent panel established to investigate the 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan (pictured) publishes its long-awaited final report. The panel clashed with the Home Office in May over Home Secretary Priti Patel’s demands to review the findings before their public release – a move condemned by the panel and Morgan’s family. Allegations of police corruption have permanently dogged the case, with no convictions ever secured despite numerous investigations.
One of the highlights of the British horse racing calendar begins at Royal Ascot on Tuesday. Up to 12,000 spectators are permitted to attend each day of the meet, with Ascot marked as one of the government’s key pilot events ahead of the possible removal of restrictions on 21 June. The main events come on Thursday with the running of the Gold Cup and the King George stakes.
Several organisations hold flagship events this week and there’s a full slate of ministers and other notable speakers ready to wow the virtual crowds. Cabinet big hitters Kwasi Kwarteng, Gavin Williamson and Matt Hancock address the BCC annual conference, Telegraph Festival of Education and CogX techfest respectively, while Hancock’s predecessor Jeremy Hunt speaks to the NHS Confederation conference. Meanwhile, Michael Gove and Cabinet Office head Alex Chisholm are the star turns at this year’s Civil Service Live.
Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet for their first face-to-face discussion since Biden took office. Described by the White House as an opportunity to restore “predictability and stability” to the US-Russia relationship, the hotly-anticipated summit will include areas of shared interest including arms control, climate change and the pandemic response. However, in an effort to combat criticism that the meeting rewards or legitimises Putin’s actions, Biden is also expected to confront Putin on the SolarWinds hack, the treatment of Alexei Navalny, and the recent arrest of journalists in neighbouring Belarus.
The independent Climate Change Committee publishes its latest assessment of climate change risks and opportunities for the UK, analysing the UK’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It comes a week after Boris Johnson was condemned for chartering a jet to fly 35 minutes from London to Newquay for the G7 leaders’ meeting to discuss, among other things, global approaches to tackling climate change.
A by-election to replace the late Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan takes place in the Chesham and Amersham constituency, where the Liberal Democrats are attempting to claim the seat for the first time since 1992. Gillan was re-elected with a reduced majority in 2019, and the Lib Dems will hope to capitalise on local discontent with the government and the constituency’s pro-European sympathies to score a valuable Parliamentary victory.
Still more conferences, as Matt Hancock and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty are today’s headliners for the NHS Confederation, while Alok Sharma, Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband take to the virtual stage for the BCC and Sir Patrick Vallance addresses the assembled civil servants. Elsewhere, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg participates in an in-depth conversation on technology and innovation at a VivaTech event, fresh off the company’s decision to ban Donald Trump from the platform for two years.
New DUP leader Edwin Poots leads the Northern Irish delegation to the North-South Ministerial Council in Dublin, the first major event since Arlene Foster stepped down as First Minister this time last week. The full council comes after DUP ministers were criticised for failing to attend NSMC sectoral meetings in recent months amid accusations of a “boycott” of one of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.
The East Kent NHS Trust is due to be sentenced after pleading guilty to a charge of failing to provide safe care and treatment following the death of Harry Richford in 2017. The infant died just seven days after his emergency delivery at Margate’s Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital, and an inquest later found his death to be “wholly avoidable”. Detectives recently revealed that further baby deaths at the Trust are now being investigated with a view to bringing additional charges.
A presidential election takes place in Iran, where incumbent Hassan Rouhani is stepping down. Of the seven candidates approved to run, hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is viewed as the most likely to succeed the reformist Rouhani. The election is being treated as a deadline of sorts for international negotiations over salvaging the 2015 nuclear accord reached on Iran’s nuclear activities, known as the JCPOA.
The oldest rivalry in football continues as England take on Scotland at Wembley in the second Euros group game. The match is often dubbed as a clash between “The Auld Enemies”, however, a recent YouGov poll shows over one-third of Scotland fans will cheer on England throughout the tournament while over half of England fans will do the same for their northern neighbours.
An annual rally takes place in South Yorkshire to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave, a 1984 picket line confrontation which resulted in 123 injuries and the arrest of 93 miners. Speakers
this year include former NUM leader Ian Lavery, who served as Labour Party chair under Jeremy Corbyn and is one of the most prominent critics of the current party leadership. Boris Johnson celebrates his 57th birthday, and the Prime Minister may need a reminder if one anecdote from a recent profile is to be believed.
Sunday (20 June)
The latest coronavirus-enforced state of emergency covering various regions of Japan, including Tokyo, is due to be lifted. The Japanese capital is now just a month away from staging its delayed and increasingly controversial Olympic Games, with organisers insistent the event will go ahead despite a fourth wave of infections. The diminishing public support for the Olympics has now been underpinned by a key scientific adviser, who warns it will be “impossible” to stage the Games without the risk of them becoming a super-spreader event.
French voters head to the polls in the first round of regional elections in France, delayed first from March on then from earlier in June. The results will be closely watched for indications of the national mood ahead of presidential elections next year when Emmanuel Macron, who was slapped in the face by a member of the public last week, is expected to seek a second term.
Wales conclude their Euro 2020 Group A campaign against Italy in Rome, in a match which could prove to be make or break. Rob Page’s side also take on Turkey and Switzerland in the tournament’s group stages, meaning two victories will likely be enough to progress to the knockout rounds. The game also marks the first time the two sides have met in almost two decades.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.