Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Monday (21 June)
Freedom Day may be a little further away again, but the Prime Minister’s roadmap update provided relief for some with the announcement that most restrictions on weddings would be removed from today. The cap on guest numbers is lifted, though venues must still comply with social distancing requirements and provide table service and, in a blow to drunk uncles everywhere, dancing is off the cards. These limits may see many couples choose to postpone again rather than skip the traditional wedding experience, while the wider hospitality industry is forecast to miss out on £3 billion as a result of the four-week delay to a full re-opening.
- July 30, 2021
- July 26, 2021
- July 16, 2021
EU Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels, where they are expected to agree additional sanctions against Belarus after a Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk last month and journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend were arrested. Belarusian airlines have already been banned from EU airspace, and the new sanctions are expected to target individuals close to President Alexander Lukashenko while to bloc mulls more substantial economic sanctions. Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanousakaya used a recent appearance before the Foreign Affairs Committee to urge the UK to implement tougher sanctions on individuals and businesses to put pressure on the ruling regime.
England and Scotland play their final Euro 2020 group matches. The teams played each other in the second round of fixtures, and the outcome (still to play at time of writing) will dictate how relaxed they feel going into this final set. Following an opening game victory against Croatia, Gareth Southgate’s side rounds off their campaign against the Czech Republic, while Scotland finishes off the group stage against Croatia following an early defeat at Hampden Park.
David Frost faces questions from the Foreign Affairs committee on the UK’s relationship with the EU, his fourth appearance before a Parliamentary inquiry on the same subject in the last two months. Lord Frost said last week that there had been little progress in negotiations with the EU on Northern Ireland trade dispute, and MPs will likely press the Brexit minister for clarity on the government’s plans for keeping goods flowing beyond the 30 June grace period. Worth watching Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida’s appearance before the Lords European Union committee on Thursday for a potential EU response.
Wednesday marks five years since the UK’s referendum on leaving the European Union. Expect to see a lot of “where are we now” coverage, with the government and Brexiteers keen to emphasise the new Australian trade deal and other post-Brexit policies, while Remainers lament the losses the country has already suffered. UK in a Changing Europe hosts a two-day conference to mark the anniversary, with the first day focused on polling and public opinion and a session on Thursday featuring Lord Frost.
Former Education Recovery Minister Kevan Collins speaks at the Telegraph Festival of Education and may use the opportunity to touch upon his recent resignation as schools catch-up tsar. Collins said the extra £1.4bn the government has announced “does not come close” to the £15bn he maintains is needed for education recovery funding. The National Association of Head Teachers have also been critical of the government’s tutoring programme recently, which they say is understaffed and bogged down by bureaucracy.
The Government’s response to climate change will come under increased scrutiny as the Climate Change Committee publishes its 2021 Progress Report. The CCC has already been critical of the Government’s response, despite the UK agreeing to adopt strict measures on coal-fired power stations at the G7 leader’s summit in Cornwall earlier in the month. On 16 June, the CCC published its Risk Assessment report which said that the UK is even less prepared than it was five years ago to deal with climate change.
Media watchdog Ofcom publishes its BBC Performance Tracker report, assessing audience opinions on issues such as the BBC’s quality of output and news impartiality. The regulator’s 2020 report found that the broadcaster responded “effectively and rapidly” to the COVID-19 pandemic, with audience satisfaction remaining relatively high, comparing well with other public service broadcasters. The report looks at data up to the end of March, meaning it won’t take into account the recent criticisms the Beeb has faced over its coverage of the death of Prince Philip or the fallout from the report into Martin Bashir’s controversial interview with Princess Diana, but it will cover the rise of the “Defund the BBC” campaign.
Other news outlets will have their own reading to do as the Reuters Institute publishes its annual Digital News report covering industry trends, trust in journalism and the success of subscription models in over 40 markets. Last year’s report showed that the trend towards digital, mobile and paid media had been accelerated by the pandemic, while there was a fall in the number of people who said they trusted news “most of the time”. Findings on the impact of Covid on misinformation and trustworthiness are likely to be particularly notable after the 2020 report noted high levels of concern about fake news on the internet.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is sentenced for the murder of George Floyd. In a rare case of police accountability, Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges, including second-degree murder, at the conclusion of his high-profile trial last month. Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year prison term, double that of the standard sentence Chauvin would typically face under state guidelines. Since his conviction, Chauvin has also been charged with violating Floyd’s civil rights in a federal case that could significantly lengthen his time behind bars.
A declassified report laying out US government intelligence on UFOs is due to be published by today, 180 days on from the signing of legislation that included a provision mandating its release. While the report is (perhaps unsurprisingly) not expected to provide proof of alien visitors, it is understood to conclude that the vast majority of so-called unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) observed by US pilots were not examples of secret US technology, a commonly-held belief. Intelligence officials also don’t believe that China or Russia have the technological capability to produce such objects. All of which raises the tantalising question: if it isn’t the US, and it isn’t China or Russia, who on Earth is it?
Cameron Deriggs is due to appear at the Old Bailey charged with conspiracy to murder over the shooting of Black Lives Matter activist Sasha Johnson. Johnson was shot in the head at a house party in south London late last month and remains in a critical condition in hospital. A second person has also been charged over the shooting and next appears in court in July.
Probation services in England and Wales return to public ownership as a series of new reforms for the sector take effect. From today, the Probation Service takes on all responsibility for managing those on licence or on community orders following their release from prison. The long-awaited move reverses the widely-derided changes first introduced under Chris Grayling’s tenure as Justice Secretary.
A bumper day of sport begins in Edinburgh where the British & Irish Lions take on Japan ahead of their upcoming tour of South Africa. Tour captain Alun Wyn Jones is likely to lead the side as the Lions play their first “home” fixture since 2005. Across the Channel, the world’s best cyclists gather in Brest for the Grand Depart of this year’s Tour de France. Last year’s winner Tadej Pogacar is again favourite to claim the yellow jersey, with Britain’s hopes resting on the shoulders of 2018 champion Geraint Thomas. All eyes then turn to Euro 2020 as the knockout stages of the tournament begin with the Round of 16 in Amsterdam and London. A win over Turkey and a draw with Switzerland means Wales will almost certainly be in action as either the runners up or winners of Group A.
Donald Trump heads to Ohio for his first rally since losing his bid for re-election. The former president is expected to use the event to reclaim some of the attention lost following his suspension from social media over the 6 January attack on the US Capitol. Allegations of voter fraud, criticism of the Biden administration and endorsements of 2022 Republican candidates are all expected to feature. Trump is also likely to mention the recent surge in immigration as the rally comes ahead of a visit to the southern border with the Governor of Texas later this month.
Sunday (27 June)
It’s a quiet weekend domestically as plans for a first restriction-free weekend have been put on hold. Those celebrating Pride Month can look to the annual march in New York City, one of the first major in-person events to take place what was one of the hardest-hit cities during the pandemic. Organisers announced last month that police officers would be banned from participating as a group until at least 2025, in an effort to reduce the presence of law enforcement. The controversial decision follows the Human Rights Campaign’s warning that 2021 is set to be the deadliest year on record for transgender and non-gender conforming people in the US.
A second round of voting takes place in France’s regional elections. The two-round system means that although voting begins on 20 June, we’ll have to wait another week to find out just how worried Emmanuel Macron should be about the popularity of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National ahead of next year’s presidential polls.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.