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News Diary 29 July-4 August: Boris Johnson faces by-election test and Ashes cricket begins

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

Monday marks the expected arrival of the HMS Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer, in the Strait of Hormuz amid ongoing tension between the UK and Iran following the seizure of the UK-registered Stena Impero vessel by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The crisis marks the first proper diplomatic test for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and could be an indication of how the new Government will approach relations with Tehran. HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate which is already on escort duty, is expected to remain in the region after Duncan’s arrival to assist with protecting British ships.

In the US capital, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at an event hosted by the Economic Club of Washington DC. A key figure in President Trump’s administration, Pompeo’s tenure has been significantly impacted by the US trade wars, for example with China, and has recently been tasked with using his diplomatic position to downplay economic disputes between the US and India.

The speech comes ahead of Pompeo’s attendance at an ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting on Wednesday, where the issue of US tensions with North Korea and China are likely to be at the forefront of US-based discussions.

The trial of US rapper A$AP Rocky begins in Stockholm on Tuesday following his arrest and detention on suspicion of assault after footage emerged of an apparent fight in the Swedish city in early July. Rocky’s case has attracted support from fellow artists and President Donald Trump, who asked Stefan Lofven to intervene and called for the rapper’s release in a series of posts on Twitter.

Chinese and American representatives meet in Shanghai for the latest discussions in the countries’ tit-for-tat tariff war. The US delegation, led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, are expected to make progress at this round after President Trump tweeted in May that talks were moving “too slowly”.

The White House later stated that while this round of talks were unlikely to produce a resolution it was an encouraging sign of commitment from both sides.

The UK Supreme Court hears the case of Maha Elgizouli, whose son, Elshafee Elsheikh, is alleged to have been involved in the murder of US citizens as one of the so-called Islamic State “Beatles”.

Elgizouli is challenging a High Court ruling which found that the Home Secretary acted lawfully in passing on details about her son and other suspected terrorists to the US without seeking assurances that they would not face the death penalty.

Jeffrey Epstein is due to appear in a New York court on Wednesday to face a string of child sex trafficking charges. The billionaire financier and former confidant of Presidents Trump and Clinton is accused of paying girls under the age of 18 to perform sex acts at his homes in Manhattan and Florida between 2002 and 2005.

Epstein was discovered injured in his cell on 25 July and authorities are now reportedly investigating whether the injuries were self-inflicted or the result of an assault.

Joe Biden, the frontrunner to become the Democratic presidential candidate, is among the participants at the second day of CNN’s Primary debate. The former Vice President launched a major offensive ahead of the event, taking aim at competitors Cory Booker for his record as Mayor of Newark and Senator for New Jersey and Kamala Harris’ position on healthcare.

The California senator is likely to face stern competition from all candidates on the stage after being widely viewed as the winner of the last debate in June.

Boris Johnson faces a second early test on Thursday as voters in Powys go to the polls in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. The ballot follows the removal of MP Chris Davies via recall petition and looks set to be a two-horse race between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Defeat for the Conservatives, for whom Davies stands despite being recalled, will further reduce the new Prime Minister’s razor thin Commons majority, with the Lib Dems’ prospects boosted ahead of the poll by an alliance with Remain-supporting parties.

The 2019 Ashes series gets underway with Edgbaston hosting the first test between England and Australia. The newly-crowned World Champions in the one-day format have struggled in recent test matches: a tour of the West Indies at the start of 2019 resulted in a 2-1 series loss, and a one-off test against Ireland at Lords ended in victory only after a faltering start.

Joe Root’s side are also sweating over the fitness of star man James Anderson, whose absence would leave a sizeable hole in the England bowling attack.

The Football League season kicks off with a Championship fixture between Luton and Middlesbrough on Friday before a full round of matches across the three divisions over the weekend.

Two of the Premier League’s relegated sides, Fulham and Cardiff, begin their campaigns to return to the top flight on Saturday, while the 2018/19 season’s bottom side Huddersfield take on defeated Championship playoff finalists Derby County on 5 August.

A commitment by the Trump administration to withdraw from a Cold War-era pact with Russia is due to take effect after the United States accused Moscow of violating the arms control agreement.

Washington said in February that it would suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned the use of short and medium-range land missiles, in response to Russia’s alleged contravention and both nations are expected to expand their development of previously banned missiles if the treaty expires.

The roads of central London go car-free on Saturday for the opening day of the annual Ride London cycling festival. As well as the Free Cycle event for amateurs and enthusiasts, the event features a UCI Women’s World Tour race, which is known as the richest in women’s cycling, and the men’s London to Surrey Classic which last year featured Olympic medallist Mark Cavendish.

Manchester City take on Liverpool in the FA Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday in English football’s traditional curtain-raiser. The match heralds the start of the new Premier League season and represents an early opportunity for last year’s domestic and European champions to face off before the beginning of the season proper.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters

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