A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.
Leading the week
The Covid-19 inquiry kicks off the final week of Module 2 hearings with an all-day session with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday (11 December).
With tensions rising within his government and party over the Rwanda Asylum Bill (more on that below), Sunak will devote his Monday to discussing the intricacies of government policy while he served as chancellor during the pandemic.
The prime minister is likely to face questions on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme he launched in the summer of 2020, which Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty later referred to as “eat out to help out… the virus”. Sunak may also face questioning over his involvement in the “Partygate” scandal, for which he received a fine in April 2022.
The inquiry rounds off the week with a series of statements from core participants on Wednesday and Thursday (13-14 December).
Sunak’s week won’t get any easier once the inquiry hearing is out of the way, as his flagship immigration policy heads back to the Commons for a second reading on Tuesday (12 December).
The new Rwanda legislation, designed to get around the Supreme Court’s decision ruling the asylum seeker scheme unlawful, failed to satisfy either wing of his party when it was published on Wednesday. Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick resigned from his post after hinting at more legal challenges, and the spectre of former Home Secretary Suella Braverman still looms over No.10.
But a bullish Sunak has vowed to press on with the plan, insisting it’s the only way to “Stop the Boats”. Its success in the Commons is by no means guaranteed, with backbenchers from both wings of the party threatening to rebel and Labour planning to vote against it. And while Sunak isn’t making Tuesday’s vote one of confidence in his government, the prospect of a general election in early 2024 suddenly looks to be closer than ever.
An eventful COP28 ends with the final agreement due to be presented on Tuesday (12 December) as world leaders struggle to find a consensus on plans to curb rising temperatures.
The final text may prove controversial, after a draft version published by the UN included various options either calling for or omitting mention of plans to phase out fossil fuels.
While major oil producers and carbon emitters are lobbying against the language and campaigners have highlighted a record number of fossil fuel delegates at this year’s meeting, the conference has also suffered from mixed messaging from its leadership. After being forced to row back on comments questioning the science showing fossil fuel phase-out will reduce global warming, the UAE’s COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber is publicly calling for the text to include language on fossil fuels – despite previously saying a phase-out would “take the world back into caves”.
Should negotiators agree the third option of the draft text, where fossil fuel reductions simply don’t feature, the already-questionable legacy of COP28 will be thrown into the spotlight again.
Back in the UK, opponents can take a break from the migration furore to revisit criticism of the prime minister’s climate commitments following his flying visit to the conference. Former Prime Minister Theresa May and Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband are among speakers at a post-COP summit on Thursday (14 December), alongside former Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith, who accused Sunak of being “uninterested” in the environment in his scathing resignation letter earlier this year.
With the conflict in the Middle East having drawn much attention away from Ukraine’s fight against Russia, a number of events taking place next week may help to focus minds back on Kyiv, starting on Monday (11 December) when Ukraine’s foreign minister joins European Union counterparts at a meeting in Brussels.
The ministerial talks come ahead of the last gathering of the year for European leaders on Thursday and Friday (14-15 December), when Ukraine is hoping a decision will be made on opening accession negotiations despite opposition from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Vladimir Putin, who made a rare foreign visit this week to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, is scheduled to hold his big end-of-year press conference on Thursday, alongside “Direct Line with Putin”, another annual tradition that sees him answer questions from members of the public.
None of the questions are expected to challenge Putin, though his fans may take the opportunity to ask about his future plans following confirmation on Friday that he will run in next year’s presidential election.
Sticking with the region, Monday (11 December) marks an important moment following October’s inconclusive parliamentary elections in Poland, as parliament holds a vote of confidence in a proposed new government led by incumbent Mateusz Morawiecki of the Law and Justice (PiS) party.
If, as many expect, Morawiecki is unable to secure enough votes, lawmakers are expected to move quickly to nominate former European Council President Donald Tusk, who now leads an opposition coalition. Assuming votes go as expected, Tusk could be sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday (13 December) or Thursday (14 December).
Also look out for…
- MPs debate leasehold bill in House of Commons
- Nus Ghani speech on trade sanctions
- Donald Trump takes stand again in civil fraud case
- WSJ CEO Council opens with House Speaker Mike Johnson
- Iranian foreign minister addresses Doha Forum
- Final negotiations at COP28
- Golden Globe nominees announced
- David Cameron at committee session on UK-EU relationship
- Retail sales and employment/wage statistics released
- Thames Water officials at committee session on company finances
- UN Security Council discusses Syria-Israel ceasefire
- Egyptian and Palestinian foreign ministers at UN human rights event in Geneva
- Xi Jinping visits Vietnam
- Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought award ceremony
- FIFA Club World Cup begins
- First England v West Indies T20I
- UK GDP monthly estimate
- Rishi Sunak faces Keir Starmer at PMQs
- Victoria Atkins at committee session on work of the DHSC
- RUSI Chief of the Defence Staff lecture
- FSA Board considers ‘Owen’s Law’ proposals on allergen labelling
- Sentencing of nurses guilty of drugging patients at Blackpool hospital
- Sergey Lavrov address to Russian Federation Council
- Hunter Biden subpoenaed deposition before House panel
- ECHR hearing in Ukraine case against Russia over Crimea seizure
- Bank of England interest rate decision
- David Cameron at Lords committee session
- New Ofgem rules on energy customer enquiries take effect
- Ballot closes in PCS union general secretary election
- ECJ rules in European Commission case against Amazon and Luxembourg
- Former FBI agent guilty over Oleg Deripaska payments sentenced
- Part two of final series of The Crown airs
- Jon Venables parole decision deadline
- Dave Ramsden speech on Bank of England resolution regime
- Sentencing for man accused of plotting UK school shooting
- Trial of ex-wife of French serial killer Michel Fourniret due to end
- Christchurch mosque shootings inquest (first phase) due to end
- Ariane 6 combined loading test
- World Darts Championship
- Jake Paul v Andre August
- ASEAN-Japan Summit
- Chile holds referendum on new constitution
- Serbia holds snap parliamentary elections
Statistics, reports and results:
- IUCN Red List update
- UNCTAD Global Trade Update
- Rightmove House Price Index
- Results from: Oracle Corporation
- Quarterly public sector employment statistics
- Universal Credit statistics
- Household benefit cap statistics
- US Federal Reserve interest rate decision
- OECD Pensions at a Glance
- UK trade statistics
- Indices of services and production
- Construction industry output
- OECD harmonised unemployment rates
- OPEC monthly oil markets report
- Results from: Inditex
- OECD long-term economic scenarios
- ECB interest rate decision
- NOAA monthly Global Climate Report
- Annual transport statistics for Great Britain
- NHS key services performance data
- Quarterly counter-terrorism legislation statistics
- ONS figures on drug misuse in England and Wales
- G20 quarterly GDP
- IEA Monthly Oil Market report
- Forbes America’s Largest Private Companies
- Results from: Currys, Costco Wholesale
- Argentina Q3 GDP
- China holds monthly press conference on economic data
- Russia interest rate decision
- IEA Coal 2023 report
- GfK UK Consumer Confidence Barometer
- Flash UK PMI
Anniversaries and awareness days:
- International Mountain Day
- Universal Health Coverage Day
- Four years ago: Conservatives won landslide victory in 2019 general election
- Five years ago: Mark Drakeford became First Minister of Wales
- 60 years ago: Kenya declared independence
- China marks Nanjing Massacre Memorial Day
- 10 years ago: start of South Sudan’s civil war
- Chocolate Covered Anything Day
- Tunisia marks Revolution and Youth Day
- Pope Francis turns 87
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