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News diary 18-24 February: Housing emissions climate report published and Oscars airs without host

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

Traditionally, February provides MPs with an opportunity to recharge their batteries, catch up on constituency work, and prepare for a packed Easter Parliamentary timetable.

This year’s recess was scheduled to begin on Monday, but with the country continuing to edge towards a possible no-deal Brexit, MPs will instead sit throughout the month in an attempt to hammer out a compromise withdrawal agreement.

Today’s business includes departmental questions to the Ministry of Defence fielding questions, while away from the House of Commons Justice Secretary David Gauke delivers what’s billed as a major address to the Reform think tank.

Across the pond, Donald Trump is due to deliver an address at Florida’s International University on the situation in Venezuela. The speech comes after the US President agreed to sign a bill to avert another government shutdown, but vowed to declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and fund the construction of his southern border wall.

The Trump administration is reportedly preparing to send millions of dollars in aid to Venezuela and the president may use today’s address to confirm details of the package.

Meanwhile some of the bigger names from the already-packed field of candidates competing for the Democratic nomination hold campaign events as Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand visit Iowa, California, and New Hampshire.

The EEF’s National Manufacturing Conference takes place on Tuesday, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, business secretary Greg Clark, and former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls all scheduled to deliver keynote addresses.

Corbyn used an appearance hosted by the EEF last month to declare that a Labour government would return manufacturing jobs to Britain, adding that a lack of support for UK manufacturing is ‘sucking the dynamism’ out of the economy.

The comments were given added weight by the ONS this week, with the announcement that a drop in car and steel manufacturing contributed to a shrink of 0.4% in GDP in December.

Environment secretary Michael Gove addresses the NFU conference in Birmingham in the wake of a fierce warning from a number of food industry bodies earlier this month over the ‘catastrophic impact’ of a no-deal Brexit. Supermarket giants Sainsbury and Asda have previously warned that a no-deal departure would threaten the UK’s food security.

In California, former President Barack Obama delivers the keynote address at the My Brother’s Keeper’s Alliance summit, which is aimed at ‘young men of colour and the organisations helping them achieve their dreams’. The event also features NBA superstar Stephen Curry and singer John Legend.

On Wednesday, the Church of England General Synod begins its winter meeting with an opening address from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. On Friday, bishops consider a motion on advertising and gambling tabled by the Bishop of St Albans, who has called for betting firms’ logos to be banned from Premier League shirts to combat ‘all pervasive’ advertising of gambling to children.

In Moscow, Vladimir Putin makes his annual address to both houses of the Russian parliament. Last year’s address focused on improving Russia’s economy and people’s livelihoods, though the speech this year may have a more international outlook after the Russian president and his Turkish and Iranian agreed to be part of discussions on a post-civil war constitution for Syria.

The Committee on Climate Change, which provides independent advice to ministers on climate and energy policy, publishes a new report on Thursday focusing on whether UK housing is meeting its emission reduction targets and whether it is adapting to the impact of current and future climate change.

The report follows research published last week which suggested that new-build home buyers are paying more in energy bills since a 2015 decision to scrap the Zero Carbon Homes programme which has coincided with a slowdown in progress on reducing residential carbon emissions.

Conservative members gather in Oxford on Friday for the party’s annual Councillors’ Association conference, where local authority representatives discuss policy and prepare for May’s elections. Local Government secretary James Brokenshire’s keynote address comes after he promised more cash for councils in this year’s financial settlement, though reports last week that many authorities are considering increasing council tax rates won’t be well received by CCA members.

The conference continues on Saturday with speeches from compromise-brokering housing minister Kit Malthouse and party chairman Brandon Lewis, who has lately been forced to deny reports that preparations are underway for a general election this year and faced warnings from party activists of the electoral impact of extending the Article 50 period.

However, the bigger speeches of the day will likely be at the Conservative Spring Forum, the party’s first major gathering of the year, which is taking place at the same hotel. The forum traditionally features an address from the Prime Minister, as well as speeches from senior Cabinet ministers.

In Venezuela, the stand-off between self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó and the Nicolas Maduro-led government has resulted in an effective aid blockade in the crisis-hit country.

Guaidó, backed by the United States and many EU nations, but not, crucially, the Venezuelan military, said at a rally on February 12 that humanitarian aid would enter the country today, though it is unclear how the interim president intends to bypass Maduro’s blockade and fulfil his promise.

Cubans vote on Sunday on various proposed changes to the country’s constitution, including banning discrimination based on gender or ethnicity and introducing presidential term limits. A proposal to alter the language describing marriage as a union between a man and a woman, which was supported by gay rights advocates, was removed by the Cuban government in December after protests by church groups.

Elsewhere elections take place in Senegal, where violent clashes have lately marred a campaign in which Macky Sall is seeking a second term as President and former incumbent Abdoulaye Wade has called for a boycott of the vote, while opinion polls in Moldova suggest a hung Parliament is the most likely outcome in the former Soviet state’s ballot.

The Oscars take place without a host for the first time in 30 years after the Academy’s eventual choice, Kevin Hart, stepped down in December amid a row over homophobic posts on Twitter. The event has been defined in recent years by falling ratings and controversy ranging from the protests over the lack of diversity to 2017’s debacle over the best picture award.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

Comments

1 thought on “News diary 18-24 February: Housing emissions climate report published and Oscars airs without host”

  1. Concerning Venezuela aid blockage, the link provided shows the never-operational Tienditas bridge, which has been blocked on the Colombian side since 2017. Neither Maduro nor Guaidó have the support of the army, in Venezuela the armies allegiance is to the constitution. To refer to the aid package as humanitarian aid is incorrect, the UN have condemned such an action as a PR stunt enacted to support regime change. The deliberate omissions are very unhelpful and reflect poorly upon the author.

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