Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Schools in England re-open to all pupils as part of the first stage of the lockdown exit plan. The re-opening follows potentially concerning news from the latest React study from Imperial College London, which found the decline in Covid-19 cases is slowing in parts of England. This has been compounded by a warning from Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), that society will have to live with a substantial degree of mortality until life can get back to normal. Schools in Northern Ireland are also set to re-open as the country begins to ease national restrictions imposed in December.
- April 16, 2021
- April 9, 2021
- April 2, 2021
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey delivers a significant-sounding speech to the Resolution Foundation on the current state of the UK economy and potential lasting effects of the pandemic. Look out for a response to the Hill review of UK listings, more on Bailey’s aggressive stance on EU efforts to move clearing activity away from London, and an explanation of how the Bank plans to fulfil the new green remit for the Monetary Policy Committee.
The Home Office’s flagship Security and Policing Conference kicks off with a discussion with former Civil Service chief Lord Sedwill. The event provides the ideal opportunity for Sedwill to respond to criticisms raised by former Prime Minister David Cameron, who used a recent committee appearance to question Sedwill’s role as National Security Adviser under Theresa May. Other senior government officials are also expected to address the event, which runs until 11 March.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance are the first of the week’s committee headliners in a Science and Technology committee session on the UK’s contribution to science and research in global disease outbreaks. The pair are likely to face questions on the next stages of the vaccine rollout and possible future methods for vaccination, along with recent criticism from the science community over the Covid recovery roadmap.
The OECD releases its latest global economic forecast, which UK economists will be watching closely following last week’s Budget. The latest forecast from the OBR, released alongside the Budget, predicts growth of 4% in 2021, a whopping 7.3% in 2022, dropping to 1.7% in 2023. While the 2021 OBR forecast is in line with the OECD’s December projection, the OBR’s 2022 forecast is considerably more optimistic than the OECD’s last prediction, so the Treasury will be hoping the new numbers are more in line.
An interview with BBC director-general Tim Davie is the highlight of the second day of Deloitte’s Media and Telecoms 2021 & Beyond conference, which also features Ofcom CEO Dame Melanie Dawes and the heads of the UK’s newspaper groups and broadcasters. Davie’s interview follows the publication of the Beeb’s ambitious diversity and inclusion plan last week, in which he called on the broadcaster to represent its audience “from top to bottom” and ensure “background is no barrier” to recruitment.
The ONS publishes its analysis of how men and women have been affected differently by the pandemic. The release, which includes information on physical and mental health, paid and unpaid work, home schooling, and loneliness, may support the findings of existing studies highlighting the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women. Though men are more likely to suffer physically from the coronavirus, research suggests that women are more likely to have lost their job, borne the brunt of childcare responsibilities, and suffered from domestic abuse during the pandemic.
Rishi Sunak continues the promo tour for his difficult second Budget with an appearance before the Treasury Committee, which follows yesterday’s online Q&A and last week’s statement to Parliament, Downing Street press conference, full broadcast round and primetime TV appearance. No one could accuse the Chancellor of failing to front up for his new policies, but while the headline announcements received a broadly positive initial response, early criticisms over a lack of focus on social care and accusations of pork barrel politics over the levelling up fund mean Sunak should not expect a smooth ride today.
The UN Human Rights Council discusses the situation in Myanmar, as the violent crackdown by the military following the 1 February coup grows more grotesque by the day while former de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest, facing a growing list of charges. International condemnation has come from Myanmar’s neighbours as well as the west, though China, probably the country with the greatest ability to persuade the generals to change their bloody course, has been conspicuously (if predictably) absent from the outcry
Thursday marks one year since the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic amid a sharp rise in cases worldwide. At the time, over 118,000 people had been infected in 114 countries, with nearly 4,300 dead. A year on, the number of global cases sits at over 16m, with over 2.5m dead.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce the first significant step in easing Wales’ lockdown as he presents the latest restriction review findings. Drakeford has signalled the imminent lifting of the “stay home” order which has been in place since 20 December, and hinted at the simultaneous re-opening of close contact services. Infection rates in Wales have now dropped below 60 cases per 100,000 people after hitting a pre-Christmas peak of 634.
The verdict in the medical tribunal for Dr Richard Freeman is expected to be handed down, a week after being delayed to allow the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service more time to deliberate. The former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor is accused of misconduct over allegations that he ordered testosterone patches to be delivered to cycling’s national headquarters in Manchester. If found guilty, Freeman could face a four-year ban from the sport
The Scottish town of Dunblane marks the 25th anniversary of the school massacre that took the lives of 16 primary school pupils and their teacher on 13 March 1996. The shooting was the deadliest in British history and sparked intense public debate around gun control laws in the UK, resulting in private ownership of handguns being banned in 1997. The anniversary will be marked by an STV special programme, hosted by Lorraine Kelly, which airs at 9pm on Thursday.
The Six Nations resumes following the disruption of round three as Wales continue their push for a Grand Slam, England aim to regain some pride, and Scotland look to keep their own title aspirations alive. England are out of the title picture after two losses, though a victory over France on Saturday would severely dent Les Bleus’ hopes of lifting the trophy. Wales play Italy to set up a final weekend Grand Slam decider, meaning Scotland would be reliant on other results to claim their first championship since 1999.
This year’s virtual awards season continues with the Grammys. Female artists have dominated this year’s nominations, including Beyonce, who leads with nine nominations despite not releasing an album in 2020, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa. Notable omissions include The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” which, despite breaking Billboard records, did not receive a nod. The Best Urban Contemporary Album category has been renamed Best Progressive R&B Album following criticism from Black artists that the urban category was used to prevent them from being nominated in other genres.
With national elections taking place in at the end of September, Germans in the western states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate head to the polls to elect members of their respective regional legislatures. Most attention will likely focus on the voting in Baden-Württemberg, which includes Stuttgart, where the far-right AfD won 15.1% of votes in 2016. Polls suggest another win for Winfried Kretschmann’s Greens this time around, with the AfD set to lose support – possibly a result of Kretschmann banning burqas in schools last year.
And – don’t forget – the UK celebrates Mothering Sunday. While it’s the first officially in lockdown, last year’s holiday came the day before the first lockdown was announced, after schools and pubs had already been closed, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson used the occasion to tell Brits the best gift they could give their mothers would be to “stay away”.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: PA Wire/Christopher Furlong