Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
A five-day hearing opens at the European Court of Justice on Google’s challenge to the whopping €4.3bn fine handed down by the European Commission over its Android mobile phone operating system. The fine was announced in July 2018 by then-Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who said the company illegally used the Android system to favour the Google Search app and its web browser Chrome. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai contends that Android “has created more choice for everyone, not less.”
It’s the final day of the UN General Assembly General Debate, with speeches scheduled from representatives of Belarus, North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan. It remains unclear who will speak on behalf of Afghanistan; the Taliban submitted a request to officially represent the country, claiming that Ambassador Ghulam Isaczai, who was appointed by former President Ashraf Ghani and has refused to step down from his position, no longer speaks for the country. The UN credentials committee, which arbitrates such disputes, reportedly only meets today to discuss the matter and may not issue a decision before the debate concludes.
The World Transformed, the parallel conference for Labour’s Corbynite wing, concludes with a Socialist Campaign Group rally which features many of the 2015-19 shadow cabinet’s most prominent figures. Taking place on the eve of Keir Starmer’s leader’s speech, it’s also perfectly timed for that cohort to voice opposition to proposals to reform leadership elections and do away with the one member, one vote system.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and future counterterrorism strategy. The officials are likely to be confronted about the airstrike that mistakenly killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, amid the chaotic evacuation effort in Kabul. Senators are also expected to ask about the resettlement of Afghan refugees and the Taliban’s human rights abuses.
Daniel Craig (pictured) returns as James Bond in the franchise’s latest instalment No Time to Die, which finally premieres at the Royal Albert Hall after an 18-month delay. Commenting on his possible replacement as 007 after 15 years, Craig said those asking whether James Bond could be played by a woman are “asking the wrong questions” and should instead focus on there being “better parts for women and actors of colour”.
Keir Starmer’s big speech, his first in-person conference keynote as Labour leader, comes after the publication of an 11,000-word essay on his vision for the UK in which he pledged to build a “contribution society”. Following his power move to restore the electoral college system for Labour leadership contests, today’s speech is Starmer’s best opportunity to finally define the kind of party he wants to lead and make a compelling pitch to Labour’s lost voters.
Wayne Couzens appears at the Old Bailey for the opening of a two-day sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard. Couzens, a serving officer in the Metropolitan Police, admitted killing the 33-year-old as she walked home from Clapham to Brixton in March. The case sparked outrage across the country and prompted a series of protests led by the Reclaim These Streets movement.
After US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron finally spoke by phone last week to ease diplomatic tensions sparked by the surprise announcement of the AUKUS security pact, major EU-US trade talks look set go ahead as planned in Pittsburgh today. The inaugural meeting of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will see US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai host European Commission Executive Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis for the Steel City talks. One item overshadowing the meeting is the lack of replacement for the now-defunct Privacy Shield agreement on transatlantic data flows, with accounts varying as to whether a deal is imminent.
After several extensions over the course of the pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme finally comes to an end with over 11 million jobs supported at a cost of £68.5 billion. The scheme has been a lifeline for many sectors since its introduction in March 2020, particularly in the arts and hospitality sectors, and almost 9 million jobs were on furlough at the scheme’s peak in May that year. Although claims have since declined, there have been warnings of the impact of the scheme’s withdrawal on jobs and the economic recovery this winter.
Northern Ireland’s fragile power-sharing agreement could come under renewed pressure with the deadline for the country’s Executive to bring forward legislation relating to the language and identity provisions for both unionists and nationalists in the New Decade, New Approach agreement. Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Edwin Poots was forced to resign in June following a lack of party consultation over the Irish Language Act and a DUP perception that Sinn Fein were weaponising the issue. Following negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Fein later that month, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said that he may go over the heads of the Stormont Assembly if no agreement is reached and instead introduce legislation from Westminster.
A second increase this year to the energy price cap takes effect amid a gas supply crisis which has seen multiple providers fail and the government forced to provide financial support to a commercial CO2 supplier. Energy regulator Ofgem said the increase was necessary after a 50% increase in energy costs this year, and charities have warned of the impact of higher bills on lower-income households this winter.
Scotland introduces vaccine passports for people to prove they have had two COVID-19 vaccine doses before entering nightclubs and large events. Their introduction has already prompted the Night Time Industries Association Scotland (NTIA) to commence legal proceedings against the Scottish government, citing “serious flaws” in the plans. There have been warnings from experts that the passports are not without risk: Professor Sir John Montgomery told MSPs that vaccine passports do not address the reasons people are hesitant about vaccines and may “exacerbate distrust” in government.
Demonstrations take place across the US calling for women’s reproductive rights to be protected in the wake of the “heartbeat” abortion ban in Texas. The draconian law, which looks set to be replicated in other Republican-led states, prohibits abortions after six weeks even in cases of rape and incest, and allows civilians to sue doctors carrying out the procedure. The Supreme Court declined to block the Texas law, and last week scheduled oral arguments in a Mississippi case that threatens to overturn the Roe v Wade ruling legalising abortion in the US.
The Conservative Party returns to Manchester for its first in-person conference since 2019, with a full complement of MPs expected to attend after the party rowed back on plans to require Covid certification. Party members can look forward to rousing speeches from Boris Johnson’s newly-reshuffled Cabinet, though the Prime Minister himself may choose to dial down the oratory gymnastics of previous years’ conference appearances in favour of the more sombre tone of his speech to the UN General Assembly.
Just across town, but perhaps a little further away spiritually, the Reform UK party hosts its inaugural party conference where vaccination is most certainly not a requirement for entry. Richard Tice, the party figurehead since Nigel Farage took on a ceremonial role amid a post-Brexit rebrand, gave an indication of a potential line of attack for his conference speech in a recent appearance on the Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, in which he accused the Conservatives of being a high-tax, high-regulation, nanny state party.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: MoD/PA Media