News diary 20-26 September: Labour conference, world leaders to UN General Assembly and booster vaccines begin - Press Gazette

News diary 20-26 September: Labour conference, world leaders to UN General Assembly and booster vaccines begin

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

Monday 20 September

England, Scotland and Wales begin the full rollout of their booster vaccine programmes as Boris Johnson is warned that the NHS faces a “serious situation” this winter if measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 are not introduced. As part of the Prime Minister’s blueprint  for “living with the virus”, all over-50s and vulnerable people in the UK will be offered a third dose of either Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. Health and care workers in England have already started receiving jabs in hospitals, but the public rollout will begin this week for over-80s.

Johnson has a busy few days as he travels to the United States this week for a planned bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden, which comes after the announcement of a new Australia-UK-US security arrangement and before his turn on the UN stage on Friday. The Prime Minister has waited longer than he would have liked for an invitation to the White House, and he’ll hope for some constructive discussions on Northern Ireland and the looming COP26 summit to go along with the “special relationship” optics.

Canadians head to the polls in a snap election announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month. While Trudeau clearly hoped that the election would produce an outright majority for his Liberals, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has run an effective campaign that has seen Trudeau’s advantage in the polls steadily eroded. The main parties are now neck-and-neck, adding weight to those who have argued that calling an election in the middle of a pandemic was, at best, ill-advised.

Tuesday

In New York, the UN General Assembly’s General Debate opens with in-person speeches from world leaders including US President Joe Biden, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While many leaders are opting to submit pre-recorded statements this year, there will be in-person speeches from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Wednesday), Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (Thursday), UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (both on Friday). The annual gathering will also provide opportunities to discuss key global issues of the day – such as COVID-19, climate change, Iran’s nuclear activities, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and tensions in the Korean peninsula.

Hearings continue in public inquiry investigating the thousands of cases of patients given contaminated blood or blood products by NHS England in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Former Health Secretary Norman Fowler gives evidence today and Wednesday; Fowler was one of several high-profile ministers named in 2017 as part of an alleged cover-up, after an 1987 cabinet memo showed the government refused to take responsibility for the scandal. Ken Clarke, who served as a minister under Fowler, was accused of showing “contempt” for victims during his own appearance at the committee in July.

Wednesday

The inquest into the death of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe is due to resume in Durham. The serial killer, who terrorised women in Yorkshire and Manchester between 1975 and 1980, died in prison last November after contracting coronavirus. At a previous hearing in June, the coroner requested additional medical notes which detail the final weeks of Sutcliffe’s life at Frankland Prison.

US President Joe Biden hosts a gathering of heads of state, non-governmental leaders and international organisations on the margins of the UNGA to discuss the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting is expected to outline a series of shared commitments including vaccination targets, funding therapeutics, and solving oxygen shortages. The gathering follows the announcement that Covax is cutting its vaccination forecast for this year, and the World Health Organisation’s plea to wealthy countries to delay offering booster doses to healthy populations in an effort to address the current global inequality in vaccine distribution.

Thursday

The Green Party announces the results of its second leadership election in two years, with this latest contest triggered by Jonathan Bartley’s resignation and the subsequent departure of co-leader Sian Berry. Bartley joined the party’s leadership team in 2016 alongside Caroline Lucas and has become the Greens’ longest-serving leader. The big challenge for the winning candidate(s), with two individuals and three joint tickets in the running, will be to translate the party’s success at local level into a greater presence in Westminster.

It’s London Tech Week, the annual showcase of the capital’s role as a global tech hub, and the usual mix of CEOs, Cabinet ministers and industry bigwigs are appearing across streams on AI, climate, and the future of work. Top of the bill today is Hillary Clinton in conversation with Law Society president Stephanie Boyce and Microsoft UK CEO Clare Barclay on the theme of leadership.

Friday

Joe Biden hosts Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for the first in-person gathering of the “Quad” on the margins of the General Assembly. The summit, which also comes on the heels of the trilateral defensive alliance, will focus on confronting the increasingly assertive influence of China in the Indo-Pacific.

Former MP Jared O’Mara appears at Sheffield Magistrates Court to answer charges of fraud. O’Mara, who held the Sheffield Hallam seat until 2019, faces seven counts of fraud by false representation after allegedly submitting fake invoices to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. The 39-year-old announced he would vacate the seat in the summer of 2019 following a series of scandals, which culminated in a now infamous resignation tirade from a former staffer who accused him of “moral bankruptcy”.

Students and young people in cities around the world strike to demand “intersectional climate justice”. Organised by Fridays for Future, the strike calls for the “elites of the Global North” to address the interconnected socioeconomic crises of racism, sexism, ableism, class inequality and climate change. The strike follows the release of a global study highlighting the level of climate anxiety suffered by young people, many of whom are hesitant about having children out of fear of the future.

Saturday

Conference season continues with the Labour faithful descending on Brighton for an in-person gathering, which takes place after a bruising internal reorganisation and with a row brewing over potential party rule changes. However, the recent poll bounce which put Labour ahead of the Conservatives for the first time in several months will have been welcomed by Keir Starmer, whose speech to the TUC Congress was full of campaign-ready promises and suggested that Boris Johnson isn’t the only party leader in election planning mode.

Anthony Joshua defends his World Heavyweight boxing titles at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as he faces Oleksandr Usyk. Despite a long reign over the Cruiserweight division, the fight is just the third bout for the Ukrainian as a heavyweight since moving up a weight class in 2019. Although keen to avoid a repeat of his Andy Ruiz slip-up, Joshua has already confirmed that he is targeting a heavyweight unification super fight with Tyson Fury next year.

Sunday

It’s election day in Germany as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to step down after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s largest economy. The three main candidates to succeed Merkel are CDU leader Armin Laschet, SPD leader Olaf Scholz, and Annalena Baerbock of the Greens. Recent polling suggests Scholz could lead the next German government following a lackluster campaign from Laschet, whose efforts to replace Merkel suffered an early setback when he was caught laughing during a visit to view the damage from devastating floods back in July.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Andrew Kelly

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