Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
The latest update on the Covid exit roadmap is due to be presented ahead of the next stage of restrictions easing, with ministers expected to confirm whether significant changes to international travel, hospitality and household mixing can go ahead as planned. The continuing success of the government’s vaccination programme and declining infection rates mean the planned changes, which include indoor openings at pubs and restaurants, are unlikely to be delayed, though even meeting the 17 May target may not be enough for many struggling hospitality businesses.
Lucy Letby appears for a plea hearing at Manchester Crown Court, accused of murdering eight babies while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Letby also faces 10 attempted murder charges against five boys and five girls, with all offences alleged to have taken place between June 2015 and June 2016. The nurse was first charged in November though her full trial is not expected to be heard until next January.
MPs and peers return to Westminster for what will likely be a more sombre State Opening of Parliament this year. After spending most of his time at the top of government responding to a pandemic, Boris Johnson now has the opportunity to put his 80-seat majority to good use and begin to make his legislative mark. Bills which were announced in the 2019 Queen’s Speech but not taken forward, including the Online Harms Bill and the Renters’ Reform Bill, should re-appear this year. Johnson’s new legislative programme may feature bills on planning reform, adult social care, and the asylum system, along with a framework for the Prime Minister’s oft-discussed levelling up agenda.
A blockbuster Treasury Committee hearing kicks off the new session of Parliament with Lex Greensill in the hot seat to answer questions on his firm’s collapse. The hearing will be the first time Greensill has spoken publicly about his company’s contacts with senior ministers and his own role in No.10 after remarks by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to a separate committee last month. Today’s session sets up a double whammy for Mel Stride’s committee, with former Prime Minister David Cameron next up for a grilling on Thursday.
Staying on committee corridor, Cressida Dick appears before the Home Affairs Committee to answer questions on her role as Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The session follows widespread condemnation of the Met’s perceived heavy-handed approach to managing the vigil in memory of Sarah Everard back in March. Dick vociferously defended the actions of officers following the vigil, dismissing calls for her resignation.
Four thousand non-socially distanced attendees descend on London’s O2 Arena to watch the glitz and glamour of The BRIT Awards. Organisers have revealed that award winners will be able to give out a second award to someone else as an “act of kindness” inspired by the Covid lockdown. Coldplay (pictured) and The Weeknd are slated to give pre-recorded performances, and with the Canadian singer controversially boycotting The Grammy’s, his attendance in London is seen a significant coup for the organisers.
The ONS publishes the first quarterly growth figures for 2021 with the economy starting to show signs of recovery in tandem with the easing of Covid restrictions. Monthly figures released on 13 April, based on data for February, estimated overall growth of 0.4% along with upward trends in output by the services, production and construction sectors. Such trends mean talk can begin to turn to the strength of the recovery, with the EY Item Club suggesting the UK could be on course for the strongest growth since the Second World War.
A timely appearance before the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee for Lord Geidt, who was last month appointed the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministerial interests. The first task in the in-tray of the former private secretary to The Queen is to establish the facts around the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat, and the session comes just days after fresh revelations about the timescale of the now-notorious redecoration.
US House Republicans meet for what is set to be watershed moment as Congresswoman Liz Cheney is all but certain to be ousted from her leadership position as conference chair. Cheney’s sustained criticism of Donald Trump and refusal to support the myth that the 2020 election was “stolen” has provoked public condemnation from party leadership, who are seeking to replace her with young Trump-loyalist Elise Stefanik. The effort to remove the daughter of the former Vice President is the clearest sign yet that the MAGA doctrine will dominate Republican messaging going into next year’s midterms.
The newly-elected Welsh Government holds its first coronavirus restrictions review with the potential resumption of indoor hospitality looming large. Mark Drakeford used his last review in April to confirm the re-opening of pubs, bars, and cafes indoors would be on the table, adding that it would be for the new government to confirm the arrangements. As well as indoor hospitality, the review is expected to consider the re-opening of all tourist accommodation and an increase to the number of attendees permitted at organised activities such as wedding receptions.
Just a week after Super Thursday and already time for another by-election: the constituents in Airdrie and Shotts will have patiently waited a few extra days to elect their next representative in Westminster. SNP MP Neil Grey stepped down to run as an MSP in the same constituency and while Labour have been campaigning hard in the seat behind candidate Kenny Stevenson, the SNP are confident of holding onto their 5,000 strong majority.
Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party meets virtually to elect its next leader following Arlene Foster’s resignation in response to a letter signed by DUP lawmakers expressing a lack of confidence in her leadership. Two candidates have announced their intention to seek the leadership role: Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, who is viewed as the frontrunner, and Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Only the party’s 28 MLAs and eight MPs are eligible to vote; the result is expected around 5pm.
Greece officially opens its borders to tourists – including from the UK – provided they can show they are either vaccinated or have had a negative PCR test result up to 72 hours before their arrival. But travellers from the UK will have to wait until at least 17 May to visit the country, and are likely to be restricted in terms of which parts of the country they can visit to avoid quarantining on their return.
A semblance of normality returns to one of English sport’s set piece events as 22,000 fans are permitted to watch Chelsea take on Leicester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley stadium. The two clubs have been allocated 12,500 tickets to split between supporters, with the remaining attendees made up of Brent residents, key workers, guests and football industry figures. Victory for Leicester would be their first in the competition and only the club’s fifth major honour, while Chelsea are seeking a ninth cup win.
Coventry commences its year-long programme as UK City of Culture after fending off competition from Paisley, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea. In the wake of the pandemic, the council has announced that the city will summon the spirit of Coventry as a “symbol of rebirth” and promises the Coventry Moves kick-off event will be “an audacious day full of extraordinary surprises”.
The Progress annual conference provides an opportunity for Labour’s elections post-mortem to begin in earnest, as senior figures in Keir Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet including Rachel Reeves, Jonathan Reynolds and Thangam Debbonaire join Scottish party leader Anas Sarwar and Welsh Labour deputy leader Carolyn Harris for what’s sure to be a reflective day for all involved. As someone with more than a decade’s experience in various leaders’ frontbench teams, Reeves’ insights could be particularly noteworthy after the events of the past week.
A big weekend for Chelsea as their women’s side take on Barcelona in the final of the Champions League and attempt to become only the second English team to win the competition. Neither side has lifted the trophy previously, though a victory for Chelsea would make the club the first to have won both the men’s and women’s Champions League and could set up a one-two for the London club with the men’s team also in the UCL final. There’ll be no fans in attendance this year, though the match is being made available to view for free on BT Sport.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Reuters/Peter Nicholls
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