A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.
Leading the week
[Update: The tube strike was called off at the last minute on Sunday.]
London’s tube network is set to grind to a halt next week as thousands of Transport for London (TfL) workers who are members of the RMT union go on strike as part of an ongoing dispute over pay. RMT members voted in December to reject a TfL pay offer that amounted to a five per cent increase, arguing the offer lags behind inflation and therefore represents a real-terms pay cut. The walkouts begin with engineering staff today, but commuters will feel the impact when control staff continue their two-day walkout on Monday (January 8), followed by signalling and service control functions on Tuesday and Thursday (January 9 and 11). All other RMT members working in engineering, station and train operations, and fleet maintenance go on strike on Wednesday and Friday (January 10 and 12). TfL has warned that widespread disruption is expected across the network all week, with Elizabeth Line, Overground and DLR services also expected to be affected.
MPs return to the House of Commons on Monday (January 8), ahead of the first clash between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer in what’s set to be a decisive year for both leaders. The first PMQs of the new year on Wednesday (January 10) comes after the pair marked the anniversary of Sunak’s five pledges by travelling to battleground regions to provide a flavour of the campaign to come, the prime minister opting for a Q&A with voters while Starmer delivered a hope and change-style speech (with a side dose of realism).
With Sunak suggesting the vote will not take place until the second half of the year, there will be plenty more opportunities for set-piece speeches – but in the Commons arena both men will have to balance the electioneering with the nitty-gritty of Westminster politics. Many of the same themes that dominated last year’s weekly clashes are likely to be recycled at next week’s session, not least Sunak’s claim to have cleared the asylum backlog and the possibility of the economy entering a recession early this year. Expect representatives of the various Conservative Party factions to keep up the pressure on Sunak over the party’s migration policies, while Lib Dem MPs will no doubt seek to talk up the party’s campaign to hold a May election.
Sabita Thanwani’s former boyfriend Maher Maaroufe is sentenced at the Old Bailey on Monday (January 8) after he admitted killing the university student in her halls of residence in March 2022. Maaroufe, who the court heard nearly beheaded Thanwani in the attack, was initially charged with murder but accepted the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after psychiatrists at Broadmoor found he suffered from schizoaffective disorder, believing angels, demons and witches were trying to kill him. But Thanwani’s family says Maaroufe was abusive, and his actions before her death show the act was clearly premeditated. The lesser charge has also led to fury from domestic abuse charities, who fear key details of the incident and the pair’s relationship may never be heard and have called for more action to tackle controlling behaviour before abusers become violent. The case has been used to highlight the number of women murdered by men in the UK every year, including at least 99 such killings in 2023.
Following an eventful start to the year in the Middle East, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be in the region next week having departed DC overnight on a trip that includes stops in Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank, and Egypt.
Meanwhile, with no let-up in Israel’s campaign in Gaza over the Christmas period, South Africa announced on December 29 that it had filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. After Israel confirmed it would challenge the accusations, the ICJ announced that initial hearings will take place next week, starting on Thursday (January 11) with arguments from South Africa before Israel makes its case on Friday (January 12).
Next week’s hearings concern a request for what are known as provisional measures, in this instance seeking an order for Israel to immediately suspend its operations in Gaza while the case, which is expected to last years, proceeds. While ICJ rulings are considered legally binding, there is no guarantee that Israel, which has vehemently rejected South Africa’s claims, would follow any order.
Closely-watched presidential and legislative elections take place in Taiwan on Sunday (January 13) with incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party term-limited. The party’s candidate this time around is Lai Ching-te, also known as William Lai, who currently serves as Tsai’s vice president. His campaign received a boost when efforts by his leading pro-Beijing challengers, Hou You-yi from the Nationalist Party (KMT) and Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party, failed to agree on running on a joint ticket, having initially announced plans to do so. The vote follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent comments on the ‘historical inevitability’ of Taiwan’s ‘reunification’ with China, which claims sovereignty over the territory, and the result could have wider implications amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington. The new president takes office on May 20.
Also look out for…
- Defence Questions in the House of Commons
- First commercial lunar mission Peregrine 1 launch
- Jury inquest for three who died in crash after police chase
- A$AP Rocky arraigned on assault with firearm charge
- David Cameron questioned at committee session
- Jeremy Hunt interview on Martin Lewis Money Show
- Junior doctors return to work after six-day strike
- Copernicus publishes 2023 Global Climate Highlights
- Justice Questions at the House of Commons
- Oral arguments in Donald Trump immunity appeal
- International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens
- Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey at committee session
- Committee session on HS2 progress update
- Scottish Parliament debate on UK asylum policy
- House of Lords returns from Christmas recess
- Donald Trump at Fox News live town hall in Iowa
- Sadiq Khan at London Government Dinner
- Post Office Horizon inquiry hearings continue
- Hunter Biden arraigned on tax charges
- Closing arguments in Trump civil fraud trial
- Scottish Parliament FMQs
- NHS waiting times and key services data
- Culture, Media and Sport questions in the Commons
- UK GDP monthly estimate
- NOAA 2023 Global Temperatures and Climate Conditions report
- Sentencing for man accused of plotting UK school shooting
- Sentencing for couple who murdered 18-month-old boy
- Asian Cup begins
- UK National March for Palestine
- National March on Washington for Gaza
- Donald Trump campaign events in Iowa
- Africa Cup of Nations begins
- Premier League continues
- Shadow cabinet members speak at Jewish Labour Movement Conference
- Switzerland hosts meeting of national security advisers on Ukraine
- Queen Margrethe II of Denmark abdicates
- Australian Open begins
- Comoros presidential election
Statistics, reports and results: Asher
- IHS Markit/REC Report on Jobs
- BRC Retail Sales Monitor
- NOAA 2023 US Temperatures and Climate Conditions
- ILO World Employment and Social Outlook
- World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk Report 2024
- DWP Cold Weather Payments 2023-24
- Trading statements from: Sainsbury’s, Persimmon
- US consumer price indices
- OECD consumer price indices
- ORR rail complaints and delay compensation stats
- Estimates of the very old: 2002-2022
- Results from: Marks & Spencer, Whitbread, Taylor Wimpey, TATA Consultancy
- UK indices of production and services
- UK overseas trade
- NIESR Monthly GDP Tracker
- Results from: Citigroup, Blackrock, Delta Airlines, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, UnitedHealth Group
Anniversaries and awareness days: Rhys
- One year ago: pro-Bolsonaro protestors stormed government buildings in Brasilia
- Kim Jong Un’s birthday
- Divorce Day
- Princess of Wales turns 42
- 25 years ago: The Sopranos first aired
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
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