Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Monday 4 October
The Conservative Party Conference continues this week, and Rishi Sunak’s speech to the Tory faithful comes after the announcement, on the day that his furlough scheme concluded, that the government would launch a new fund to provide economic support to struggling households over the coming winter. The package appears designed to counter accusations that the Chancellor’s refusal to extend the Job Retention Scheme or maintain the Universal Credit uplift will result in a cost of living crisis over the winter months.
- October 22, 2021
- October 15, 2021
- October 8, 2021
The government introduces a new, simplified system for international travel, replacing the traffic light system with a single red list of countries and territories and a loosening of COVID-19 testing requirements for all other passengers. Despite travel becoming easier, Association of British Travel Agents chief executive Mark Tanzer has warned that this autumn will be a “white-knuckle ride” for many businesses with over 50% of ABTA members surveyed earlier in the year claiming they would run out of cash within six months.
Following Emma Raducanu’s historic success at the US Open, British tennis fans can look forward to the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where Raducanu and Andy Murray have both been given wild card invitations to play. The tournament will be Raducanu’s first since her win at Flushing Meadows, but she will be without her coach Andrew Richardson after parting ways last month.
In Manchester, highlights from the Conservative conference agenda today are speeches by new Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is likely to address the killing of Sarah Everard and wider issues of women’s safety and policing following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens. Conference also hears from Health Secretary Sajid Javid, whose handling of the pandemic since his appointment was criticised recently by a former senior WHO official.
Stephanie Grisham, the former White House Press Secretary and Chief of Staff to Melania Trump, releases her tell-all book I’ll Take Your Questions Now. The damning account of the Trump White House includes revelations about the former president’s temper, his sexist comments, and pervasive dishonesty. Though the Trumps have framed Grisham’s book as a collection of falsehoods from a bitter former employee, many of her claims reiterate previous allegations made against Donald Trump and the culture of his administration.
While the Chancellor’s new support fund may alleviate some of the pressures facing families this winter, the withdrawal of the Universal Credit uplift today could still have a stark effect on low-income households. Housing charity Crisis warned last week that some 100,000 renters could face eviction after the cut, while calls to make the £20 uplift permanent have been widespread among opposition parties and commentators from across the political spectrum.
For so long the darling of Conservative Party conferences, Boris Johnson returns to the stage for what is still only his second in-person speech as Prime Minister. Having faced criticism for his responses to events over recent months, this speech represents an opportunity for Johnson to reassert his leadership and answer some of the most pressing questions facing him this autumn, not least around his goals for the COP26 climate summit and the next stages of the government’s levelling up agenda. After being described as “trivial” by Keir Starmer last week, the orator in Johnson may not be able to resist responding with some bons mots of his own.
Kwasi Kwarteng addresses Energy UK’s annual conference, where he’ll have an opportunity to tell industry insiders how the government plans to avoid a winter of discontent defined by more supplier failures and forecourt fisticuffs. Also speaking is Ofgem chief Jonathan Brearley, who has been fighting the regulator’s corner amid accusations that it is to blame for the energy crisis.
Gearoid Cavanagh and Jordan Devine appear in court in Londonderry charged with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee (pictured) in 2019. The hearing comes amid a flurry of activity in the case: following the charges laid against Cavanagh and Devine in September, two more men were arrested in Derry on 1 October in connection with McKee’s murder. Alleged New IRA member Paul McIntyre is already awaiting trial for the killing, while four other men have been charged with rioting and other related offences.
New Education Secretary Nadim Zahawi speaks at the National Association of Headteachers annual conference, his first major appearance since taking up the job. Signalling a strong stance on school closures, Zahawi has said he will not “stand back” and allow pupils to miss school as a result of the pandemic and that the government “must do everything we can to keep as many in face-to-face learning as possible”. Zahawi will also have to manage the reaction to new examination regulations issued by Ofqual, designed to make GCSEs and A-levels more difficult, meaning fewer pupils being offered places at top universities in 2022.
The winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize is announced. Nominees considered most likely to win this year include Belarusian and Russian opposition leaders Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Alexei Navalny, and climate activist Greta Thunberg. The World Health Organization has also been nominated for its pandemic work, but the announcement, it comes amid the release of a report accusing WHO employees of sexual abuse during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 2018 and 2020.
Members of the Scottish Green Party gather online for their virtual party conference. The party are now junior partners in the Scottish Government following the power-sharing agreement with the SNP, which meant they were required to back First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the issue of vaccine passports, introduced on 1 October. Party leaders will need to use conference to reassure members that they won’t be pushed around by their SNP partners; co-leader Patrick Harvie had previously said vaccine passports could set a “dangerous precedent” and “deepen discrimination”.
A big weekend for sports fans: Tyson Fury defends his WBC World Heavyweight Championship against American Deontay Wilder in a bout that was delayed from July after a coronavirus case in Fury’s camp, and the UK’s men’s football teams play in the latest round of World Cup qualifiers. Wales takes on the Czech Republic on Friday, while today’s action includes England v Andorra, Scotland v Israel and Northern Ireland v Switzerland. It’s also the Super League Grand Final, which sees the Catalans Dragons face off against St Helens or Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford.
Sunday 10 October
Iraqis head to the polls for the early parliamentary elections promised by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi when he took office last May following months of mass protests against government corruption and ineptitude. The elections were initially scheduled for June this year before being delayed to allow more time to create the conditions for a free and fair vote, something some would argue still hasn’t been achieved. This time all eyes are on Moqtada al-Sadr and his Sadrist Movement, which looks set to gain seats in the 329-member parliament and play a decisive role in choosing the country’s next Prime Minister. The former Shia militia leader, who at one point called on his supporters to boycott the election before reversing his position, is a nationalist viewed as something of a bulwark against the more pro-Iranian factions in parliament.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Excalibur Press