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January 26, 2024

News diary 29 January-4 February: Nicola Sturgeon at Covid inquiry, Brianna Ghey killers named, Harry Mirror hacking win latest

A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.

By Foresight News

A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.

Leading the week

Peers delivered a first shot across the bows of Rishi Sunak’s flagship policy this week by voting for a motion to delay approval of the UK-Rwanda treaty, and the sparring resumes in the House of Lords on Monday (January 29) with second reading of the Rwanda asylum bill. This stage of the bill’s progress should be straightforward, with the real battles likely to come during next month’s committee stages, but Monday’s debate will give detractors their first opportunity to set out the case against the deportation plans, and it’s also likely to give ministers a good idea of what to expect from opposition amendments down the line. We’ll get a chance to gauge the reaction at the top of government on Wednesday (January 31), when James Cleverly is grilled by MPs on the Home Affairs Committee on the Rwanda bill and migration policy more generally.

Nicola Sturgeon’s role in the Covid-19 pandemic is set to be closely examined this week as the former Scottish first minister appears at the UK’s pandemic inquiry for an all-day session on Wednesday (January 31). Module 2A of the inquiry, which focuses on the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic, has so far been dominated by internal WhatsApp messages (or lack thereof). While revelations of Sturgeon’s rather flowery descriptions of senior political figures attracted national attention last week, opposition politicians seized on evidence that decisions were routinely made via WhatsApp messages which were later deleted, accusing the government of a ‘deliberate cover up’.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove is up first on Monday (January 29) to discuss his late-pandemic-era role as UK Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, followed by former Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman. On Tuesday (January 30), former controversial SNP leadership candidate and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes appears, followed by former Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack appears on Thursday (February 1) to round off the week.

Brianna Ghey’s killers are unmasked at Manchester Crown Court at their sentencing on Friday (February 2). Ghey, 16, was found dead on February 11, 2023, after suffering from stab wounds in Linear Park, Culceth, Liverpool. Vigils were held around the country, with members of the trans community fearing her killing had been a targeted attack.

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A boy and a girl, who were 15 at the time of Ghey’s death, were charged with her murder and faced trial, in which disturbing details were heard. The pair, known as Girl X and Boy Y, had been fascinated with murder, and discussed killing other children before they settled on Ghey, who X had befriended months earlier. WhatsApp messages revealed Boy Y had discussed killing the teen to ‘see if it will scream like a man or a girl’. Mrs Justice Yip has confirmed the killers’ automatic anonymity will be lifted upon sentencing, allowing them to be named and pictured.

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It’s been a mixed bag for the UK’s economic and fiscal picture in recent weeks, with low public borrowing contrasting with stalling wage growth and recession-adjacent GDP figures. Those public finance figures are thought to be tempting Jeremy Hunt into lining up some tax cuts for his March budget, but before the Chancellor gets too carried away, he should take note of what Andrew Bailey has to say on Thursday (February 1) after the Bank of England’s latest interest rate decision and monetary policy report. The MPC isn’t expected to announce a cut this month, but the governor’s post-report press conference will nonetheless be closely watched for any guidance on when we can expect rates to start falling this year.

Looking abroad

The US Senate Judiciary Committee holds a highly-anticipated hearing on online child sexual exploitation on Wednesday (January 31),which is set to feature rare public testimony from Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, TikTok’s Shou Chew and Twitter’s Linda Yaccarino alongside the CEOs of Discord and Snap. Their appearances come after the committee announced in November it had been forced to enlist the US Marshals Service to personally subpoena the CEOs after the firms refused to cooperate, in what was described as a ‘remarkable departure from typical practice’. The hearing is part of a wider Senate effort to tackle the negative effects the internet can have on children, with bills introduced last year to force platforms to report child sex trafficking and enticement crimes and senators expressing concerns over the addictive nature of smartphones and social media.

Amid uncertainty elsewhere in Congress about the likelihood of reaching an agreement on funding for Ukraine, European leaders gather in Brussels on Thursday (February 1) for an extraordinary summit aimed at agreeing on the bloc’s aid to Kyiv after Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban single-handedly blocked an agreement at their last summit in December.

The gathering follows the Turkish parliament’s vote this week approving Sweden’s accession to NATO, leaving Hungary the sole member of the alliance yet to sign off on Stockholm’s membership application in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In the wake of the vote by Turkish lawmakers, Orban is said to have provoked fury by inviting Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson to Budapest to ‘negotiate’ over the issue, though he subsequently appeared to backtrack. Kristersson has agreed to talks in Budapest but appears keen to discuss the matter when both leaders are in Brussels next week.

Elections are scheduled in El Salvador on Sunday (February 4), and the country’s youthful president, Nayib Bukele, is expected to easily secure a second term despite a constitutional ban on leaders serving consecutive terms. Bukele, a baseball-cap wearing Bitcoin enthusiast, has introduced a series of hardline policies since taking office in 2019 aimed at tackling crime in the country. And while his mano dura (iron fist) policies, including the imposition of a state of emergency in 2022 that suspends key rights for suspects, have been criticised by some, the dramatic results in terms of reducing murders look likely to be handsomely rewarded at the ballot box.

Also look out for

January 29

  • High Court hearing in Prince Harry’s case against Mirror Group Newspapers
  • Final candidates announced in the Welsh Labour leadership contest
  • CAT trial begins in BT overcharging class action case
  • Iranian foreign minister visits Pakistan
  • China Evergrande bankruptcy hearing in Hong Kong
  • Trial begins for man charged with murder of Jam Master Jay
  • Public hearings begin in Canadian election integrity inquiry

January 30

  • Officer charged with murder of Chris Kaba is named
  • ASLEF train drivers begin week of strike action
  • IMF publishes World Economic Outlook update
  • Informal EU defence ministers meeting
  • New UN humanitarian coordinator for Gaza due to brief UN Security Council
  • Emmanuel Macron pays state visit to Sweden

January 31

  • ICJ ruling in Ukraine case against Russia, including over downing of MH17
  • Tata Steel and Vaughan Gething at committee session on Port Talbot steelworks
  • Export Health Certificates introduced at UK border
  • Rhun ap Iorwerth speech on Welsh independence
  • XL bully exemption registration deadline
  • US Federal Reserve interest rate decision
  • Boeing results and CEO call following 747 MAX 9s grounding

February 1

  • XL bully ban takes effect in England and Wales
  • Premier League football transfer window closes
  • Greta Thunberg on trial in London over climate protest

February 2

  • Core participant closing statements in Post Office Ltd Horizon IT system inquiry
  • Guinness Six Nations tournament begins
  • Sentencing for Cambridge student guilty of murdering boyfriend
  • EU foreign ministers hold informal meeting
  • Apple Vision Pro goes on sale
  • Africa Cup of Nations and AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals

February 3

  • Stop the War pro-Palestine protest

February 4

  • Match schedule announced for the 2026 World Cup
  • GRAMMY Awards
  • 20 years ago: Facebook founded

Statistics, reports and results:

January 29

  • ONS stats on impact of winter pressures on different population groups
  • CBI monthly growth indicator & service sector survey
  • Results from: Ryanair

January 30

  • OBR submits first spring budget forecast round
  • National population projections
  • Annual stats on violent crime, fraud and computer misuse
  • Annual breast screening review statistics
  • BRC shop price index
  • Transparency International Corruption Perceptions index
  • Preliminary flash estimate EU and euro area GDP
  • Results from: Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, General Motors, Pfizer, UPS, Mondelez, Starbucks, Diageo

January 31

  • ONS quarterly estimate of government deficit and debt
  • Social housing lettings in England 2022/23
  • Cold Weather Payments 2023/24
  • Nationwide house price index
  • Scottish GDP (final estimate)
  • Hong Kong Q4 GDP
  • Results from: Boeing, QUALCOMM, Samsung, Mastercard, MetLife, Nomura, Santander, GlaxoSmithKline, H&M

February 1

  • School and college performance tables 2022/23
  • A Level results 2022/23
  • BRC economic briefing report
  • UK manufacturing PMI
  • EU unemployment
  • RAJAR listening figures
  • India budget presented
  • Results from: Meta, Apple, Amazon, Shell, Deutsche Bank, ING, Merck, Roche, TSB, BT Group

February 2

  • US unemployment figures
  • IMF report on the Chinese economy
  • BRC Footfall Monitor report
  • FAO Food Price Index
  • Flash euro area inflation
  • Results from: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Antofagasta, Panasonic, Unicredit, Tata Motors

Anniversaries and awareness days:

January 30

  • World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day
  • 52 years ago: Bloody Sunday (Derry)

January 31

  • National Bug Busting Day
  • Four years ago: Brexit Day

February 1

  • Iran – Ten-Day Dawn begins
  • LGBT+ History Month
  • Black History Month (US)
  • World Hijab Day
  • Dignity Action Day
  • Time to Talk Day
  • Three years ago: Myanmar coup

February 2

  • World Day for Consecrated Life
  • World Wetlands Day

February 3

  • Iran National Aerospace Technology Day

February 4

  • World Cancer Day

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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