Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Ministers from the Department for Education face questions in the Commons, with no shortage of issues for MPs to choose from. Two weeks into the new year, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has been forced into a trio of high-profile U-turns: closing schools, cancelling GCSE and A-level exams, and scrapping a “food parcel first” approach to free school meals after a furore over the quality and value for money of boxes and another intervention from footballer Marcus Rashford.
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NHS Test & Trace chief Baroness Dido Harding faces questions from the Public Accounts Committee on the programme’s rollout and effectiveness so far. Harding’s first appearance before the spending watchdog follows a National Audit Office report into the programme which was critical of its record in contact tracing and the delivery of test results. Harding was handed a boost last week, however, with the news that a record 1m people were reached by contact tracers over the new year.
The Duchess of Sussex (pictured) resumes her long-running legal battle against Associated Newspapers with a remote hearing at the High Court in London. Tuesday’s hearing considers an application from the Duchess for a summary judgment, which if granted would see the court hand down its ruling without the need for a lengthy trial. The Duchess alleges the paper breached her privacy by publishing private correspondence with her father, Thomas Markle.
The Department for Education releases statistics on the number of children attending school during the first full week of closures. The figures come amid reports that, despite the Government guidance that schools should only be open to vulnerable children or children with one key worker parent, some primary schools are more than half full, while others are refusing to allow children in unless both parents are key workers.
Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, exactly two weeks after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump engaged in a violent insurrection at the US Capitol that resulted in the death of five people. Around 20,000 members of the National Guard are set to be deployed to the capital amid fears of further armed protests. Trump has announced he will not be attending, in a fitting reflection of the division characterising Washington at the “America United”-themed ceremony.
An hour later, the Senate is expected to convene to begin Trump’s second impeachment trial following the House of Representatives vote on 13 January. In a significant shift since the last impeachment proceedings, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed openness to voting to convict, indicating the sense of crisis and division within the GOP since the 6 January attacks.
A miserable year for the high street was capped off by an especially bleak Christmas period, and the release of December’s retail sales figures will give an indication of the battle many brands are facing as lockdown continues into 2021. The official statistics come a week after the British Retail Consortium said 2020 was the worst year on record for retailers.
European Union leaders hold their first meeting of the year, focused on coordination of the bloc’s response to the coronavirus pandemic amid criticism of the relatively slow and disjointed rollout of vaccines across Europe. Leaders are also set to discuss how to restore freedom of movement, a core principle of the EU that has been severely tested by the pandemic.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service investigation into former Team Sky and British Cycling Doctor Richard Freeman reaches its final stage, as closing statements are presented at his tribunal hearing. Freeman has been the subject of a long-running inquiry into allegations that he personally ordered banned substances to be delivered to the sport’s national headquarters in Manchester. The hearing is due to conclude on 27 January, with a facts decision expected on 2 March.
Germany’s ruling political party, the CDU, announces its new leader ahead of elections in September. Following years of female leadership – first by Angela Merkel and more recently by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – the next leader is certain to be male, with members choosing between North Rhine-Westphalia premier Armin Laschet, Bundestag foreign affairs committee chairman Norbert Röttgen, and lawyer Friedrich Merz.
Abu Dhabi’s “Fight Island” plays host to UFC 257, where Conor McGregor returns to the octagon to face Dustin Poirier in the main event. The fight is McGregor’s first MMA bout in more than 12 months, but all eyes are already on the Irishman’s next potential fight – a hotly-anticipated boxing match against Filipino great Manny Pacquiao.
The fourth round of the FA Cup begins with the pick of the matches seeing current Premier League title rivals Liverpool and Manchester United facing off at Old Trafford. For those dreaming of an FA Cup giant slaying, look no further than Cheltenham Town v Manchester City, Wycombe v Tottenham, or Chelsea v Luton Town.
As the UK works toward the government’s 15 February vaccination target, NHS England has set a Sunday deadline for all care home residents and staff to have received their first vaccine dose. Primary care networks have been told they may need to operate 12 hours a day, seven days per week to meet the “ambitious” target.
A strict lockdown imposed in Portugal on 14 January is relaxed slightly to allow citizens to vote in presidential elections. Incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is expected to be re-elected easily in the first round, though observers are keeping an eye on the rise of far-right CHEGA leader Andre Ventura, who is polling around 10% despite the party receiving just over one per cent of the vote share in the 2019 parliamentary polls.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Chris Jackson/PA Wire