News diary 14-20 March: Red Nose Day, anniversary of Crimean annexation and Tory Spring Forum - Press Gazette

News diary 14-20 March: Red Nose Day, anniversary of Crimean annexation and Tory Spring Forum

Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…

MONDAY

The House of Lords considers the government’s economic crime bill after it was fast-tracked by MPs last week. The new legislation would allow ministers to introduce tougher sanctions more quickly and target Kremlin-linked individuals who use the City of London to hide their wealth, with the introduction of a new register of interests among the bill’s headline-making provisions. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who targeted seven major Russian oligarchs last week, suggested fresh sanctions could be introduced as soon as Tuesday if the bill is approved by peers.

The ONS publishes the annual shopping basket used to calculate inflation after another year in which the pandemic had a huge impact on consumer spending decisions. Many of the items added to last year’s basket, such as smart watches, casual wear and hand sanitiser, reflected a society adapting to the restrictions imposed across much of 2020, though the trend for spending at home appears to have continued into 2021 in spite of the greater freedom for consumers.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe begins a special two-day session to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with President Volodymyr Zelensky due to address the session via videoconference on Monday. Russia had its rights of representation in both the Council’s Committee of Ministers and its Parliamentary Assembly suspended last month over its aggression in Ukraine. Moscow then announced last week that it was withdrawing from PACE, which is Europe’s oldest and largest intergovernmental organisation; former president Dmitry Medvedev had previously speculated that leaving the body could provide a “good opportunity” to reinstate the death penalty in Russia. Zelensky is also due to address the Canadian parliament on Tuesday.

TUESDAY

The controversial rule mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for care workers in England is lifted. The government says the regulation can be lifted due to UK-wide immunity achieved through vaccinations and because the Omicron variant of coronavirus is less severe than the Delta variant. The government has also scrapped the regulation due to come into effect on 1 April that would have required vaccinations for NHS staff, after 90 per cent of respondents to their consultation supported removing vaccination as a condition of deployment.

Pre-Inquest Reviews take place at Plymouth Coroner’s Court into the deaths of Keyham shooter Jake Davison and his five victims. Davison carried out his attack in August last year, claiming the lives of Maxine Davison, Lee Martyn, Sophie Martyn, Katherine Shepherd and Stephen Washington before turning his weapon on himself. A hearing in December was told that Davison had launched his shooting spree following a row with his mother, just weeks after his firearms licence had been returned by Devon and Cornwall Police. A full inquest is expected to be held later this year.

WEDNESDAY

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace joins NATO counterparts as they gather virtually for an extraordinary session to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Although there has been unanimity among NATO members in their rejection of Ukrainian pleas for a no-fly zone, there have been differences over the provision of lethal assistance to the country. Notably, a row emerged last week over Polish proposals to provide older MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, meanwhile, is scheduled to join his G7 counterparts for a special virtual meeting with the Chairman of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, Ruslan Stefanchuk. Implementation of sanctions legislation against Russia likely dominates their discussions.

THURSDAY

The acting head of Border Force speaks on the final day of the Home Office’s Security and Policing Exhibition, with questions certain to focus on the UK’s role in the emerging Ukrainian refugee crisis. Phil Douglas has hardly had the ideal week’s preparation for his appearance, as the Home Office continues to attract fierce criticism for creating a dedicated visa centre some 70 miles from Calais. Britons with partners trapped in Ukraine have branded the visa scheme a “shambles”, while growing numbers of Tory MPs have criticised the Home Secretary’s handling of the crisis. The exhibition attracts a series of high-profile speakers throughout the week, with a “senior official” opening proceedings on Tuesday.

The UK interest rate could be in line for a third consecutive rise when the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee announces its latest decision today. The Bank has forecast inflation to rise above seven per cent next month, and Governor Andrew Bailey warned MPs earlier this month that the least well-off would be hit hardest by the effect on the cost of living. The MPC’s decision comes a day after the Federal Reserve is expected to announce the first in a potential series of increases to the US interest rate.

FRIDAY

Celebrity-fronted charity fundraiser Red Nose Day takes place across the country, featuring the annual star-studded TV event on BBC One. While Red Nose Day typically raises money to tackle poverty in the UK and Africa, this year it also focuses efforts on those displaced by the war in Ukraine.

Russia marks the anniversary of the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Officially known as the “Day of Crimea’s Reunification with Russia”, President Vladimir Putin traditionally celebrates with a visit to the region. This year’s anniversary comes at a critical time for Putin as he seeks to quash any opposition to the invasion of Ukraine and frame western sanctions as evidence of longstanding aggression towards Russia. He is likely to use the occasion to reaffirm Crimea’s status as a part of Russia and reiterate his demand that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recognise this as a condition to ending the “military operation”.

SATURDAY

Assorted minsters will take to the stage at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens for the Conservative Party’s Spring Forum in the hope of shifting focus away from links to Russian money and the Prime Minister’s recent struggles, and on to the levelling up agenda and the looming local elections campaign. Panels on campaigning and election preparation are prominent on the agenda, and party figures from the grassroots to the Cabinet will be looking to Boris Johnson’s speech on Saturday to fire up the membership and show he can still be an election-winning leader.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge begin a 12-day tour of the Caribbean, their first joint overseas visit since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the first in a flurry of royal visits this spring. The trip begins in Belize and will also take in Jamaica and The Bahamas next week, with itinerary focused on the pandemic response, biodiversity, culture and celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The royal family is also keen to shore up support for the monarchy in the region following Barbados’ decision to remove The Queen as head of state last year.

SUNDAY

The new Formula One season begins in Bahrain as the sport emerges from its biggest raft of regulation changes in a generation. This year’s cars have been entirely redesigned to promote better racing as organisers look to end the recent dominance of Mercedes and Red Bull. American team Haas already look to be in for a tough season, with their decision to cut Russian business ties leaving them without a title sponsor. The move also led to Russian driver Nikita Mazepin being dropped, though the 23-year-old has since raised the prospect of legal action over his dismissal.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: PA Wire/Comic Relief

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