Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Monday 8 November
A man is expected to go on trial at Westminster Magistrates Court over an incident involving BBC journalist Nick Watt in June after pleading not guilty. Martin Hockridge (pictured) is accused of using threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour as he pursued Watt through Whitehall during an anti-lockdown protest. The Newsnight political editor was subjected to slurs including “traitor” during the 15 June incident, which was widely condemned by senior figures including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Thousands of families and friends reunite for the first time in 18 months as the United States reopens its air and land borders to fully vaccinated foreign travellers. Coming just ahead of the holiday period, the easing of travel restrictions will be a major boost for the US economy, particularly the hospitality and travel sectors that have suffered amid the absence of tourists. It is also hoped that lifting the travel ban may reduce the number of illegal border crossings from Mexico and improve relations with Europe, where vaccination rates have long been higher than those in the US.
In China, top Communist Party leaders gather under the chairmanship of President Xi Jinping for the last key session ahead of next year’s crucial National Party Congress, when Xi is set to secure an unprecedented third term. As part of the carefully orchestrated build up, authorities in Beijing have announced that participants at this week’s gathering will consider a “historical resolution”, only the third in communist China’s history and viewed as evidence of Xi’s dominance over the party. Somewhat awkwardly, the meeting comes less than a week after explosive (and subsequently deleted) allegations appeared on Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s Weibo page, accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie speaks at the annual Journalists’ Commemorative Service at St Bride’s Church. The service, which remembers journalists, camera-crew, photographers and support staff who risk their lives on the frontline and is also attended by The Duchess of Cornwall, comes in a year which has seen increasingly aggressive opposition to media in the UK and more than 40 journalists murdered worldwide, according to UNESCO figures.
In New York, Meghan Markle addresses the New York Times’ annual DealBook conference on how women can achieve economic and professional parity. The appearance marks the Duchess of Sussex’s latest foray into issues of equality, having recently lobbied US Senators to support the inclusion of paid family leave in President Joe Biden’s massive social spending bill. Markle’s efforts triggered a predictable backlash from the tabloid press, who accused her of taking advantage of her royal status. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla are also among speakers.
The Supreme Court hands down its long-awaited judgment in a landmark case which sees Google accused of illegally gathering the personal data of millions of UK iPhone users. The case is brought by a former director of the consumer watchdog Which?, and is widely seen as a test case for future class actions relating to the misuse of personal data. The internet giant has already been warned that a compensation bill in the case could run into the billions of pounds should the Supreme Court rule in favour of the action. Google also faces a separate day of judgment at the European Court of Justice, which rules over an appeal to a €2.42 billion fine handed down by the European Commission in 2017 over its Google Shopping service.
NHS staff in the GMB union vote on whether to take strike action in a dispute over the government’s “insulting” three per cent pay offer, which the union says is below inflation and amounts to a real-terms pay cut. The call for a “restorative” 15 per cent pay increase for workers in the health service comes as the Royal College of Nurses delivers a petition to Downing Street, warning that nurses’ morale “has never been so low”.
Today’s GDP release offers a first opportunity to gauge whether the UK economy is on track to achieve the OBR’s latest prediction of 6.5 per cent growth for this year. Strong figures for Q3, which includes the summer period after the lifting of all Covid restrictions, would be a boost for Chancellor Rishi Sunak after he loosened the spending taps at last month’s Budget and predicted that the economy would return to pre-pandemic levels before the turn of the year. But the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Report, released alongside the decision not to raise interest rates last week, halved its Q3 and Q4 growth predictions citing supply chain bottlenecks and weak consumer spending.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse are the keynote speakers on the opening day of the Excellence in Policing Conference. Following a turbulent 12 months for the force, Dick’s speech will aim to reassure Londoners that the Met has taken proactive measures to repair both its reputation and its badly damaged relationship with the public. The Policing Minister, meanwhile, has opened a new front for the embattled Commissioner ahead of his own address, criticising a perceived lack of action in taking on the capital’s criminal gangs.
David Henderson is sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court after being found guilty of endangering the safety of the crashed aircraft which resulted in the death of footballer Emiliano Sala in January 2019. The Argentine forward was killed along with pilot David Ibbotson when their Piper Malibu plane crashed into the Channel while en route to Cardiff from Nantes. Henderson also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of attempting to discharge a passenger without valid authorisation.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai tops the bill on the closing day of the Chatham House Global Trade conference, which opened Thursday with a keynote speech from Trade Policy Minister Penny Mordaunt. This year’s conference considers how to make trade systems more resilient in the post-pandemic world, and Tai recently reasserted US support for the WTO as a key part of that ambition after the previous administration’s less enthusiastic approach. Also up today is European Commission director general for trade Sabine Weyand, whose experience as deputy to Michel Barnier will provide valuable insight into the UK’s current issues.
England take on Albania at Wembley in the penultimate World Cup qualifier before wrapping up their campaign against minnows San Marino on Monday. With an array of attacking talent, Southgate has the luxury of dropping Manchester United’s £73m summer signing Jadon Sancho as the Three Lions aim to guarantee a place at the World Cup in Qatar next year.
The Royal British Legion hosts the Festival of Remembrance of Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, this year marking the 100th anniversary of the collective Remembrance tradition. The commemoration, hosted by Huw Edwards, will for the first time recognise both military and civilian men and women from the UK and Commonwealth who have “fought wars, disasters and pandemics to protect and defend Britain.” But the focus is likely to be on the absence of the Queen, who regretfully announced that she would be unable to attend after taking advice to rest for two weeks following a hospital stay on 20 October.
The monarch is hoping to be at Whitehall on Sunday, however, for the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, with Buckingham Palace saying it is her “firm intention” to lead the tributes. The service will be her first public appearance since her hospitalisation and the nation will be keen to see signs that the Queen is in good health after her rest period.
After a Covid-enforced delay from 2020, the T20 World Cup got underway last month with Oman and the UAE sharing hosting duties in place of a pandemic-afflicted India. Pakistan and England led their respective groups going into the business end of the tournament and both nations have strong chances of making Sunday’s final at the Dubai International Stadium, with defending champions West Indies struggling to repeat their 2016 victory.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: PA Wire/Stefan Rousseau