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March 1, 2024

News diary 4-10 March: Jeremy Hunt presents Spring Budget, Jimmy Kimmel hosts Oscars

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

Longer days and slightly less brutal weather can only herald one thing in the UK: a spring fiscal event! After what’s been a fairly bleak winter all round, households and politicians of all stripes are now waiting to hear what warm words will be offered by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in his Budget statement on Wednesday (March 6). An already-crucial budget for Rishi Sunak’s government will take on an additional level of significance as potentially the last that Hunt will oversee with an election looming this year, so what should we expect when the Chancellor steps up to the despatch box next week?

The prospect of pre-election tax cuts has featured heavily in much of the budget speculation in recent weeks, and the Chancellor seems to have been on a journey on that front amid repeated warnings about the state of the public finances. The latest caution from the influential IFS think tank will probably not have been welcomed at the Treasury, but with Hunt under intense pressure to reduce the tax burden there have been suggestions this week that a cut in National Insurance could be on the cards. An attempt to outflank Labour on non-doms has also been mooted, though with a consensus that there’s little fiscal headroom for any big giveaways, we may have to wait until Easter to see any rabbits.

Protesters take to the streets across the UK on Saturday (March 9) to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. Demonstrations have been held up and down the country since war broke out between Hamas and Israel, and next weekend’s protest goes ahead despite Home Secretary James Cleverly calling for them to end, telling activists they’ve ‘made their point’. It will be closely watched after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a new protocol on policing protests on Thursday, claiming the UK was descending into ‘mob rule’ and calling for police chiefs to use the powers at their disposal to ‘minimise disruption’.

The announcement followed several protests at the home addresses of MPs, with private bodyguards now providing ‘round-the-clock’ protection for those deemed to be at highest risk. Sunak’s comments were condemned by protest organisers and framed as part of a wider attempt to demonise protesters as ‘hate marchers’ following interventions from former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and former Tory deputy chair Lee Anderson, who had the whip removed for claiming London was being controlled by Sadiq Khan’s ‘Islamist mates’.

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The highlight of the entertainment calendar takes place on Sunday (March 10) when Jimmy Kimmel hosts the 96th Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars. Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which has been nominated in 13 categories, appears set to dominate the night having performed strongly again at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, where it picked up gongs for outstanding cast as well as wins for Cillian Murphy for male lead and Robert Downey Jr. for supporting actor. Murphy, a first time Oscar nominee, is now the favourite to pick up best actor, while Nolan, who has never won an Oscar, may well end up winning three on Sunday.

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Other films expected to do well include Poor Things, starring Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo and which is nominated in 11 categories, Martin Scorcese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which stars Lily Gladstone and is up for 10 awards, and Polish-British film The Zone of Interest, which has been nominated in five categories. Despite Barbie’s star Margot Robbie and director Greta Gerwig being snubbed in the most coveted categories, the box-office hit still has eight nominations, including one for Gerwig for Best Adapted Screenplay. Finally, 20 Days In Mariupol, which depicts Russia’s siege of the Ukrainian city in early 2022, is the favourite to win best documentary, the first time The Associated Press has been nominated for an Oscar.

Looking abroad

US President Joe Biden will deliver his final State of the Union before November’s vote on Thursday (March 7), a major moment to point to positive economic news such as low unemployment and falling inflation, legislative achievements like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and CHIPS Act and, on the international stage, strident support for Ukraine and reengagement with the international community on efforts to curtail climate change. Biden will need to tread carefully around his administration’s record on the Israel-Hamas war – his support for Israel has angered many in his own party, a gap highlighted during last week’s Michigan primary which saw a significant ‘uncommitted’ protest vote from Arab American and younger voters. While the president had hoped to be able to point to a fresh, US-brokered ceasefire from Monday (March 4) as evidence that he’s taking the death toll in Gaza seriously, this now seems increasingly doubtful.

Yesterday, Republicans announced that freshman Alabama Senator Katie Britt will deliver their response this year. The decision to choose the youngest woman in the Senate is likely no accident and an acknowledgment that the fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, including its potential impact on access to IVF treatment, has been an electoral drag for Republicans.

Despite Biden’s favoured start date looking unlikely, next week should see continued efforts to secure a pause in fighting ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin on Sunday (March 10). Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz has suggested that the start of Ramadan was a deadline for Hamas to release Israeli hostages before Israel launches its operation into the southern Gazan city of Rafah, something aid agencies have warned could have catastrophic humanitarian consequences given the city is currently home to some 1.5 million Palestinians who have nowhere else to flee to. In this context, the annual INSS security conference taking place in Tel Aviv on Thursday (March 7) is likely to be closely watched given the announced list of speakers already includes opposition leader Yair Lapid, war cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot, and US Ambassador Jacob Lew as well as three unannounced ‘special’ interviews.

Next week also sees China hold its ‘two sessions’, the most important annual meetings in the Chinese political calendar. Proceedings begin with the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on Monday (March 4) followed by the National People’s Congress (NPC) session on Tuesday (March 5), when Premier Li Qiang will deliver his first government work report since his appointment last year. The session, which lasts about a week and ends with a speech from President Xi Jinping, comes amid economic headwinds and follows delays to the Communist Party’s third plenum, when longer-term economic plans were supposed to have been discussed. More information about this year’s NPC session is due to be announced at a press conference on Sunday (March 3).

Also look out for…

March 4

  • House of Lords considers the Safety of Rwanda Bill
  • George Galloway due to be sworn in as new Rochdale MP
  • Commons debates farming
  • Sentencing hearing begins for ‘Eunuch maker’
  • Change of plea hearing in case of alleged Pentagon leaker Jack Teixeira
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights update on global human rights developments
  • Celebrity Big Brother series begins
  • World’s oldest person turns 117

March 5

  • Super Tuesday in US presidential primaries
  • Birmingham City Council meets on finances and council tax rise
  • House of Lords debate on UK position on foreign affairs
  • UEFA Champions League round of 16 second legs

March 6

  • Cabinet meets to sign off on budget
  • PMQs in the House of Commons before budget announcement
  • OBR Economic & Fiscal Forecast
  • Northern Ireland junior doctors’ strike
  • Lords votes on most current stage of Safety of Rwanda Bill
  • Sentencing for man guilty of threatening Mike Freer MP
  • Lucy Frazer at The Big Creative UK Summit
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell at US House Committee hearing
  • Compliance deadline for the EU Digital Markets Act
  • BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells)

March 7

  • Kemi Badenoch at Chatham House Global Trade Conference
  • Financial Fair Play hearing for Nottingham Forest
  • TSSA London Underground staff strike
  • Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram’s book released
  • Jimmy Lai’s national security trial scheduled to end

March 8

  • Sentencing for man guilty of murdering Stephanie Hansen
  • Victoria Atkins and Chris Whitty speak at Nuffield Trust Summit
  • Gillian Keegan at ASCL conference
  • Ireland referendums on gender equality
  • Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou
  • International Women’s Day
  • 10 years ago: Flight MH370 disappeared

March 9

  • Premier League season continues
  • Guinness Six Nations round four
  • Formula One: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

March 10

  • Mothering Sunday
  • Early parliamentary elections in Portugal
  • Crufts Best in Show announced

Statistics, reports and results

March 4

  • CBI Monthly Growth Indicator
  • UK Finance household finance review

March 5

  • UK Services PMI
  • BRC Retail Sales Monitor
  • SMMT car sales figures
  • International Narcotics Control Board annual report
  • South Africa Q4 GDP
  • Results from: Bayer AG, Reach (Trinity Mirror), Target, Thales Group, Fresnillo, Wolseley, Travis Perkins

March 6

  • ONS release on inequalities in victimisation
  • HMRC second estimate of the VAT gap
  • Ifo Economic Forecast
  • OECD Consumer Price Indices
  • UK Construction PMI
  • THE report on women-led universities
  • Australia Q4 GDP
  • Results from: Quilter, Tullow Oil, Legal & General Group, CLS Holdings, Capita Group

March 7

  • OECD Global Debt Report
  • EU stats on fertility of nationals and foreigners
  • Civil justice quarterly statistics
  • ORR stats on passenger rail performance
  • GP workforce quarterly update
  • Halifax House Prince Index
  • Results from: ITV, Admiral Group, Lufthansa Group, Costco, Entain, Gap Stores, Harbour Energy, Hugo Boss AG

March 8

  • EU GDP and main aggregates/employment Q4 2023
  • IHS Markit/REC report on jobs
  • US employment figures
  • FAO food price index

March 9

  • China consumer price index

Anniversaries and awareness days

March 4

  • World Obesity Day
  • Waste Week (to March 10)
  • National Butchers Week (to March 10)
  • 200 years ago: RNLI founded

March 6

  • National Dress Day

March 7

  • World Book Day

March 8

  • British Science week (to March 17)
  • YMCA Sleep Easy

March 10

  • World Glaucoma week (to March 16)

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

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