News diary 22-28 November: Funeral held for Sir David Amess MP and Scotland finalises Covid passport plan - Press Gazette

News diary 22-28 November: Funeral held for Sir David Amess MP and Scotland finalises Covid passport plan

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

Monday 22 November

Labour leader Keir Starmer is among speakers at the CBI’s flagship annual conference, where he aims to impress industry leaders and build on the positive response to the party’s recent conference pledge to reform business rates. The second jobs scandal has been relatively good to Starmer, with the former DPP’s prosecutorial style lending itself to the delivery of some effective attack lines, and he’ll be hoping to build on that momentum and burnish his business credentials while the government faces accusations that it’s abandoned the “Levelling Up” agenda.

A who’s who of the trade world is on the bill for the CPS think tank’s annual Margaret Thatcher Conference, with UK negotiation adviser Crawford Falconer and former USTR Susan Schwab joining “brains of Brexit” Shanker Singham, the City of London Corporation’s Catherine McGuinness and former business secretaries Vince Cable and Peter Mandelson. The conference features sessions on multilateral trade and the CPTPP, though it’s the closing keynote by Lord Frost that’s likely to be most closely watched as another Brexit deadline looms.

New Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, who replaced the scandal-hit Sebastian Kurz earlier this year, hosts a now-virtual international conference on Belarus, as the crisis over its alleged weaponisation of desperate migrants shows no signs of abating. On Tuesday, the European Parliament is set to debate the situation ahead of a formal address to MEPs from Belarusian opposition figurehead Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Wednesday.

Tuesday

Senior political figures including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer are among those expected at Westminster Cathedral for the funeral of Sir David Amess MP. The 69-year-old, who had represented the Southend West seat since 1997, was stabbed to death last month as he hosted a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea. A 25-year-old man, Ali Harbi Ali, has been charged with his murder and is due to stand trial at the Old Bailey in March.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a COVID-19 update to the Scottish Parliament to finalise plans to extend Scotland’s COVID passport scheme to pubs, gyms, and other small hospitality venues. In a statement to MSPs on 16 November, Sturgeon confirmed that any extension of the passport scheme would likely be introduced on 6 December. She also said she was “acutely aware” many businesses do not want an extension of restrictions, but said expanding the passport scheme could help shops stay fully open over Christmas and through the winter.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi is in Tehran for high-level meetings in a visit that comes just ahead of the UN nuclear watchdog’s next board meeting. Grossi, who plans to hold a press conference later in the day once he’s back in Vienna, earlier this month bemoaned an “astonishing” lack of communication between Iran and the IAEA since hardline President Ebrahim Raisi took office. International talks seeking to revive the JCPOA on Iran’s nuclear activities are scheduled to resume on 29 November.

In Brussels, European affairs ministers gather to start preparations for the next EU leaders’ meeting in mid-December, with UK-EU relations on the agenda following last Friday’s round of talks between Lord Frost and his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic. After the previous round in London, Sefcovic – who likely attends today’s meeting – welcomed a change in tone from the UK side, but Frost has since reiterated his willingness to invoke Article 16 at any point.

Wednesday

The Supreme Court hands down its judgment in a case centred around a man with a complex autism spectrum disorder and which concerns a person’s capacity to consent to sexual relations. The appellant in the case has previously expressed a desire to be in a relationship and engage in sexual activity, though his local authority has ruled he can’t have safe unsupervised contact with women. The local authority argues that “his understanding of sexual consent is lacking”, with the Court of Appeal having previously ruled in their favour.

BBC chair Richard Sharp and Ofcom interim chair Maggie Carver deliver keynote speeches at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) Autumn Conference. This year’s conference takes place amid some uncertainty in the broadcasting industry: the BBC is grappling with redefining impartiality and a yet-to-be announced funding settlement for 2022-2027, the government has delayed the decision of whether to privatise Channel 4, and Ofcom has been forced to rerun its hiring process for a new chair after their recruitment panel found the government’s preferred candidate, former Daily Mail Editor Paul Dacre, to be “not appointable”.

Thursday

An ever-present policy headache in Dominic Raab’s inbox, the issue of prison overcrowding, dominates proceedings on Thursday with the release of prison population projections for the next five years. The numbers are likely to make for depressing reading for the Ministry of Justice: the Prison Governors’ Association warned just weeks ago that the UK could run out of prison places entirely by 2023. Raab has focused recent re-offending reduction efforts on employment, though a looming backlog of court cases means his department could soon be taking on water faster than it can be bailed out.

French President Emmanuel Macron begins a two-day visit to Rome, where he reportedly plans to sign a broad cooperation pact, the Quirinale Treaty, with his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi. The agreement would be viewed as something of power move in Berlin ahead of Olaf Scholz’s likely ascendancy to the Chancellery, barring last-minute troubles in his negotiations to form a so-called traffic light coalition with the FDP and Greens.

Friday

Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping period against a troubling backdrop of global supply chain issues and high inflation rates. With pre-existing supply chain bottlenecks being exacerbated by increases in demand post-lockdown, shoppers are likely to see fewer discounts and longer delivery times. Though recent studies suggest that the long-anticipated surge in retail spending may not happen, consumers are nevertheless being urged to prepare early to avoid disappointment amid such uncertainty.

The ONS publishes provisional excess mortality figures for last winter, which may give a clearer picture of how badly the second wave of the pandemic hit the UK. In March, it was reported that the deadliest day for coronavirus deaths in the UK was 19 January, when 1,463 people died with COVID-19 listed on the death certificate. Final figures for 2019/20 are also published; provisional figures released last year showed that winter deaths were already up 20 per cent between December and February 2020 before Covid hit.

Saturday

Night Tube services on London’s Central and Victoria lines resume for the first time since they were suspended as the pandemic began to take hold in March 2020. The London Assembly said the resumption of night services on the Underground would have a positive impact on the capital’s night-time economy but called on Mayor Sadiq Khan to reopen all lines, while tube drivers’ union the RMT said that the additional work would place “intolerable demands” on TfL staff. Night services on the London Overground are due to resume next month.

Sunday 28 November

As countries across Europe impose new lockdown restrictions and expand the use of Covid passports, Swiss voters use the country’s quarterly referendum to weigh in on whether they support the government’s coronavirus law for the second time this year. The vote focuses on an amendment to the COVID-19 Act approved in March, which formed the legal basis for COVID certificates that are now used in restaurants, museums and other indoor settings, but which opponents have incorrectly claimed allow for mass surveillance.

Despite a disappointing finish to her season, SPOTY shoe-in Emma Raducanu should still be in for a rapturous welcome at her first match on home soil since her famous victory at the US Open. Raducanu takes on Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse in an exhibition match at the Royal Albert Hall during the annual Champions Tennis tournament, in what is also her first appearance on court since appointing new coach Torben Beltz.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: PA Wire/Kirsty O’Connor

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