News diary 27 January-2 February: UK leaves the EU and Manchester terror attack suspect trial starts

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

Hashem Abedi goes on trial at the Old Bailey on Monday charged with the murders of all 22 victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack. Abedi is the brother of the attack’s perpetrator Salman, and faces additional charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Not guilty pleas were entered during a hearing in October of last year; the trial is expected to conclude at the end of March.

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Phase two of the evidence hearings for the Grenfell Tower inquiry begin, focusing on the cause of the fire, the tower’s design and cladding, fire safety measures and advice to residents, the emergency services response, and the aftermath.

Victims’ families have raised concerns over a potential conflict of interest for inquiry panellist Benita Mehra, who ran a charity that received funding from the charitable arm of Arconic, the manufacturer of the cladding used on Grenfell.

World leaders and survivors attend ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau hosted by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was notably absent from the event held in Israel last week. The UK delegation is headed by The Duchess of Cornwall.

Transport Focus publishes the latest edition of the National Rail Passenger on Tuesday. The survey looks at UK passengers’ satisfaction with rail services, and follows a double blow for franchise operators as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps prepares to make a decision on whether to terminate Arriva’s Northern Rail franchise and South Western Railway’s South Western franchise. Both companies have issued financial sustainability warnings amid complaints about poor service and reliability.

A day on from the beginning of Abedi’s trial, a preliminary hearing takes place as part of the public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing. An initial hearing in November last year threw the work of Greater Manchester Police under the microscope following claims of a “diabolical” failure by the force to provide key evidence on time.  The inquiry is scheduled to open on 6 April.

MPs elect new chairs of the Commons Select Committees on Wednesday. The Conservatives have been allocated 16 chairmanships, while Labour will have nine, including the Brexit committee, which will focus on scrutinising trade negotiations once DExEU winds up.

Once elected, committee chairs should be eager to convene a meeting of the Liaison Committee to question the Prime Minister, who cancelled three scheduled appearances in the last parliament.

Assuming Donald Trump’s team uses all three allotted days for opening arguments, the next stage of his impeachment trial gets underway. Under the impeachment rules, Senators submit written questions to Chief Justice John Roberts, who will present them to either the House impeachment managers or the White House counsel.

A much-anticipated debate and vote on the question of additional evidence is likely to follow on Friday, the outcome of which will determine how the trial will progress over the next week.

Boeing releases its fourth quarter earnings report, which is expected to be bruising in the ongoing aftermath of the company’s 737 MAX planes being grounded.

Third quarter results released in October showed a profit drop of over 50 per cent, and a continued delay to the planes returning to service has led to predictions of “an absolute disaster” this time around.

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meets on Thursday, with pressure to announce an interest rate cut somewhat relieved by stronger than expected PMI figures.

Outgoing Governor Mark Carney had previously hinted at an impending cut due to a sluggish economy. Carney will use the post-meeting press conference to present the bank’s quarterly Monetary Policy Report, his last before handing the reins to Andrew Bailey in March.

The Duke of Cambridge visits Everton in the Community on Thursday to discuss the Heads Up campaign, which aims to remove the stigma surrounding mental health to encourage men to talk about their issues.

The Cambridges have made mental health a key focus of their patronage, and the visit comes after the prince and his brother issued a statement criticising media reports about their relationship as “offensive and potentially harmful” for mental health issues.

Three and a half years after the Brexit referendum, the UK leaves the European Union at 11pm on Friday (pending a formal approval of the Withdrawal Agreement in the EU Parliament on Wednesday).

With the Big Ben controversy gone quiet, Brexit supporters can still look forward to an address from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a celebratory party in Parliament Square with Nigel Farage, a countdown clock projected on Downing Street and lights on other Whitehall buildings, Union flags flying around Parliament Square, and the twice-delayed introduction of the Brexit commemorative coin.

The UK formally enters the 11-month transition period the next day, meaning life goes on much as before – the Labour leadership election continues over the course of the weekend with the latest round of hustings.

Candidates to succeed Jeremy Corbyn debate in Bristol on Saturday before heading along the M4 to Cardiff on Sunday. Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy appear to be the early pace-setters as senior figures in the party’s much discussed “Red Wall” regions begin voicing their support.

The highlight of a busy weekend of sporting action sees the return of the Guinness Six Nations. The tournament begins in Cardiff, where defending champions Wales welcome Italy to the Principality Stadium before Ireland host Scotland in Dublin.

The first round of fixtures is rounded off on Sunday as bookies’ favourites England travel to France. Elsewhere, the women’s final of the Australian Open tennis also takes place in Melbourne on Saturday with the men’s final being played on Sunday.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards take place on Sunday, presented by Graham Norton. The awards have once again sparked controversy over a lack of diversity: all 20 nominees in the major acting categories are white, and, as with the Oscars, there are no women nominated in the best director category. Expect a resurrection for the #BAFTASSoWhite hashtag on the night.

Miami hosts Super Bowl LIV as the Kansas City Chiefs, led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, take on the San Francisco 49ers. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira host this year’s much-anticipated halftime show, while President Trump and his potential rival Michael Bloomberg have both forked out the eye-watering sum of $10m to air ads during the game.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville

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Comments

1 thought on “News diary 27 January-2 February: UK leaves the EU and Manchester terror attack suspect trial starts”

  1. —-which aims to remove the stigma surrounding mental health

    Aim better: The issue is not the stigma but those trained to convey it.

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