News diary 16-22 March: New Bank of England governor takes over as coronavirus shakes economy

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

Under fire before he’s even walked through the doors at Threadneedle Street, Andrew Bailey (pictured, right) takes over at the Bank of England on Monday tasked with preventing another global financial crisis.

Mark Carney’s (pictured, left) final week as governor saw a return to record-low interest rates and the release of a package of support for businesses, and Bailey must now decide what further measures are required as the Bank responds to the effects of coronavirus (Covid-19) on the UK economy.

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The ONS releases the annual “shopping basket” of goods and services used to track inflation, which also provides a yearly snapshot of UK consumers’ spending habits.

New additions to the basket last year included smart speakers and bakeware, while envelopes and three-piece suites were among the ten items removed. Unfortunately, the release comes too soon to measure the effect of recent panic buying of toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

A pre-inquest review hearing takes place in Bournemouth as part of the investigation into the death of footballer Emiliano Sala. A criminal investigation into the tragedy that also claimed the life of pilot David Ibbotson has now concluded, with police opting not to bring formal charges.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch published their report on the crash on Friday after a year-long investigation, finding that Ibbotson was not licensed to fly the plane or operate commercial flights.

Four days of debate on the Budget conclude on Tuesday, when MPs vote on a package of measures, including a manifesto commitment on National Insurance contributions that was somewhat overshadowed by Rishi Sunak’s promise to deliver record spending on infrastructure.

The Chancellor can expect to face questions on the merits of additional borrowing from his own party as well as opposition members of the Treasury Committee at the traditional post-Budget session on Wednesday.

Arizona, Illinois, Florida and Ohio hold their presidential primaries. With almost 600 delegates up for grabs, it’s Bernie Sanders’ final opportunity to catch up with frontrunner Joe Biden, who achieved a series of decisive victories in key states like Michigan and Texas.

Florida will be the focus of the night, and with Biden widely projected to win there, Tuesday may prove to be the nail in the coffin for Sanders’ campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears for the first hearing in his corruption trial, after the court rejected his request for a 45-day delay. Netanyahu faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, but has stood firm in insisting he should lead a unity government as Israel deals with the coronavirus crisis in the aftermath of a third inconclusive election.

The second round of negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU are due to begin on Wednesday, though at the time of writing it is unclear whether they will go ahead or in what format after face-to-face talks in London were called off due to the coronavirus threat.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier highlighted four areas of “very serious divergence” after the first round of talks earlier this month, including fisheries, regulatory alignment, the role of the European Court of Justice, and enforcement.

Members of the EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee take evidence from UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance Mark Carney on climate change and the COP26 conference due to be held later this year. Carney recently warned that the world is at risk of missing its net-zero target in 2050 unless businesses make a concerted effort to be transparent about their climate change policies.

OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers hold a virtual meeting of their Joint Technical Committee, with Russia due to participate despite its recent standoff with Saudi Arabia.

The talks come after members dramatically failed to agree production cuts beyond 31 March at their meeting earlier this month, sending oil prices plummeting as Russia and Saudi Arabia appeared to be gearing up for a price war from 1 April.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government publishes quarterly figures on homelessness in the UK on Thursday, a week after the Chancellor pledged £650m in the Budget to provide extra spaces for rough sleepers.

The Government has come under criticism for its response to what Shelter has called a “worsening housing emergency”, with numbers rising and charities now concerned about how the homeless population will cope with close-proximity shelters and a lack of options for self-isolation as the public health emergency worsens.

The government publishes its weekly update on the location of new, confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday.

The former regional director of Public Health England Professor John Ashton criticised the Government’s inaction last week, dubbing its response “complacent” and suggesting that containment policies that are being enacted now should have been put in place a month ago. Cases in the UK have continued to rise rapidly since the first diagnoses were made at the end of January.

The Olympic torch arrives in Japan on Friday ahead of the upcoming Tokyo Summer Games. Japan is keen to show it is pushing ahead with Olympic preparations despite speculation that they will be called off, and the torch relay is currently set to go ahead despite the Greek leg being cancelled after the flame was lit without any spectators present. The Japanese tour kicks off on 26 March in Fukushima, and ends at the opening ceremony on 24 July.

It’s a quiet weekend as all the setpiece (and not-so-setpiece) events have been called off: major cancellations include The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s planned trip to Jordan, all professional football in England, the Welsh Liberal Democrats conference, the Bahrain Grand Prix, the March Madness basketball tournament and Birmingham Comic Con. At time of writing, you can still catch Wigan Warriors’ “Pride Day” fixture against the Catalans Dragons and their new signing Israel Folau.

A milestone for Boris Johnson on Sunday as he marks 100 days at the head of a majority government. The Prime Minister has broadly delivered on a pre-election wishlist for his first 100 days in office, though last week’s mini-rebellion over Huawei suggested that, as with so many of his predecessors, the true measure of the success for his premiership is likely to be his ability to maintain unity on the Tory benches.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Peter Summers/Pool via Reuters

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