News diary 4-10 April: French election, National Insurance increase and Nessa murderer sentenced Press Gazette

News diary 4-10 April: French presidential poll opens, National Insurance hiked and Sabina Nessa murderer sentenced

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

MONDAY

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publishes its third major report in the last year, following approval at the 56th session of the IPCC. The two previous reports focused on the causes and impacts of climate change, and outlined alarming scenarios of disruption and destruction. This latest summary for policymakers will look at mitigation, considering the value of carbon capture mechanisms and harm reduction.  The reports will inform the Sixth Assessment Report due in October.

The trial of Ali Harbi Ali, who is accused of murdering MP Sir David Amess last year, resumes at the Old Bailey. Ali was due to begin presenting his defence this week, but the judge was forced to postpone proceedings after members of the jury tested positive for coronavirus. The court was shown footage of Ali’s arrest in the opening stages of the trial and heard how the 26-year-old had previously spent years researching potential political targets. Proceedings are expected to conclude in April.

TUESDAY

The Royal United Services Institute hosts its annual Sea Power conference featuring maritime experts and high-level speakers from domestic and international defence departments and naval services. This year’s event is themed around high-intensity warfighting, and the main news is likely to come from the keynote address by NATO Military Committee chair Rob Bauer following his participation in recent exercises hosted by the alliance close to the conflict in Ukraine.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appears before the US Congress alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley at a House hearing to discuss the recently-unveiled budget request, though typically lawmakers use such hearings to discuss a wide range of issues. Ukraine is sure to come up, including recent intelligence regarding tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military leaders over the poor performance of Russian troops.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, addresses Spain’s parliament today, the latest in a series of speeches to lawmakers. He is also due to address the Greek parliament on Thursday.

WEDNESDAY

The start of the new financial year brings the first transitional increase to National Insurance contributions for the Health and Social Care Levy, touted as an NHS-saving tax rise last year, taking effect at the same time as an SME-friendly hike to the Employment Allowance announced at last month’s Spring Statement. The tax take from the new levy, which caused so much controversy upon its announcement, is set to be reduced significantly from July, when a further change to NICs is introduced. The influential IFS think tank was among the first to question the validity of the Chancellor’s raft of recent tax reforms, claiming that almost all workers will be paying more tax in 2025 than without this parliament’s reforms.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss joins her NATO counterparts in Brussels for a two-day meeting. The gathering comes on the heels of Truss’s visit to India, where she urged officials to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite simultaneous efforts by Sergey Lavrov to strengthen India’s support. Though Ukraine appears increasingly likely to abandon its hopes to join the alliance, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has been invited to participate. Representatives from partner countries including Japan, South Korea and Australia also take part in tomorrow’s session.

THURSDAY

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin is set to deliver his annual report on the work of the government to lawmakers in the Duma. He is likely to update on the government’s efforts to mitigate soaring inflation and other impacts of international sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Last week, Mishustin announced that Russia would allow so-called “parallel imports” of goods into Russia without the permission of the trademark holder as a host of foreign brands have stopped selling their goods in Russia.

Koci Selamaj is sentenced at the Old Bailey after being convicted of the murder of Sabina Nessa last September. Selamaj killed the 28-year-old in a random attack as she walked through a park in South-East London on her way to meet friends. A previous hearing heard that the Albanian national had driven to the capital from his home in Eastbourne to carry out the attack, which was described as “premeditated, predatory, and extremely violent”.

FRIDAY

Sticking with the courts, Dylan Kwabena Mills, better known by his stage name Dizzee Rascal, is sentenced by magistrates after being convicted of attacking his former partner. Mills was found guilty of assaulting Cassandra Jones in a row over childcare arrangements at an address in South London last June. The rapper landed himself in further hot water after his conviction was announced, smashing a photographer’s camera as he left court.

US Senators are on track to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson before departing for Easter recess. Jackson endured two gruelling rounds of questioning from Republican Senators, who accused her of being lenient towards paedophiles and terrorists, questioned her impartiality and sought to portray her as an “activist judge”. With an eye on the midterms, hot button issues including critical race theory and transgender rights were also raised. Nevertheless, with the support of all Democrats and Republican Susan Collins, Jackson is set to become the first Black female Supreme Court Justice when Stephen Breyer retires in June.

SATURDAY

Climate activists Extinction Rebellion begin a new phase of action to pressure the government to end its reliance on fossil fuels. XR says it will work with other movements to block oil refineries across the UK and initiate a “mass flood” of people in London, causing “maximum disruption”, beginning with a protest in Hyde Park today. Further action is planned over three consecutive weekends from 23 April.

Aintree hosts one of the cornerstones of the British sporting calendar with the running of the 174th Grand National. Rachel Blackmore posted an historic victory last year to become the first female jockey to win the event, and is expected to offer a strong challenge once again following her Cheltenham Gold Cup heroics in March. For those who fancy a flutter, Any Second Now is the current bookies’ favourite, closely followed by Enjoy D’Allen and last year’s winner Minella Times. 

SUNDAY

Following an unusual presidential election campaign that has seen incumbent Emmanuel Macron largely preoccupied with the conflict in Ukraine while his would-be successors battle it out on the campaign trail and on the airwaves, the French head to the polls in the first round of voting. The consensus is that Macron will comfortably pass through to the next round, most likely in a rematch with his 2017 rival Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally movement. Le Pen has been polling well in the run-up to the first round, consistently leading her main rivals, leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon (La France Insoumise), centre right candidate Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains), and “France’s Donald Trump” Éric Zemmour (Reconquête!). Of course, Sunday’s voting is but an amuse-bouche ahead of the 24 April run-off, when a key question is how Mélenchon and Pécresse supporters will vote in the absence of their preferred candidate.

The first men’s major of the year concludes with the winner of today’s final round at The Masters donning the coveted green jacket. Tiger Woods’ practice round at Augusta led to speculation he could be set for a dramatic return to action, though a competitive field featuring world number one Scottie Scheffler and current tournament favourite Jon Rahm means a fairytale victory for the five-time champion is unlikely.

The Olivier Awards take place at the Royal Albert Hall following two years of cancelled and postponed ceremonies, celebrating the best in UK theatre. Cabaret featuring Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley leads this year’s awards with 11 nominations, while Lily Allen is up for best actress for her West End debut in 2:22 A Ghost Story, which is also nominated for best new play.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Damien Meyer/AFP via Getty Images

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