Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
Will this be the week we get the findings of Sue Gray’s investigation into Whitehall gatherings? Publication plans were thrown into disarray when the Met put out a statement saying they had asked for “minimal reference” to the events they’re investigating, raising questions about whether a heavily redacted version would satisfy the government’s critics. Your guess is as good as ours at this point, but if it does get published in some form, expect the fallout to dominate the week.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is due to visit Ukraine this week, possibly as soon as today, amid the continuing crisis prompted by the build-up of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border. The UK has been notably active in its response to the crisis, sending weapons and even a small number of troops to train Ukrainian forces, as well as declassifying MI6 intelligence regarding alleged Russian plans to attempt install a pro-Moscow leader in Ukraine. Meanwhile in New York, the UN Security Council meets at the request of the US to discuss the crisis, just a day before Russia takes over the presidency of the Council for the month of February.
Senior figures from across politics are expected to attend a service at Westminster Cathedral to remember the life of Labour MP Jack Dromey, who died last month at the age of 73. A former trade union official, Dromey was elected to Parliament in 2010 as MP for Birmingham Erdington and was appointed to frontbench roles by three Labour Party leaders.
President Joe Biden hosts the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, for talks at the White House. The issue of global energy supply is set to dominate the agenda amid the Ukraine crisis. The talks come as the US finalises contingency plans in the event that Russia weaponises its gas supply; as part of that effort, the Emir is expected to offer to divert gas supplies to Europe.
The highly controversial Nationality and Borders Bill continues through the House of Lords as peers consider the legislation at committee stage. One of the key provisions in the Bill which has attracted widespread condemnation is the proposal to empower the government to remove a person’s citizenship without informing them. Critics have warned such a move could create a two-tier society in the UK, while also jeopardising the main legal route into the country for refugees. The government has dismissed such concerns as “scaremongering”, with Home Secretary Priti Patel saying that such a law would only be used in “exceptional circumstances”.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse releases the findings of its investigation into alleged organised abuse networks operating across the country. The publication is the latest in a long line released over the last four years, with their most recent report in September lambasting religious groups for “blatant hypocrisy” in failing children. Chair Alexis Jay plans to publish the findings of a residential schools investigation in early March, before the inquiry’s final report is released later this year.
After an opening address from Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries on Monday, Labour leader Keir Starmer closes the second day of the Creative Coalition Festival with a keynote speech on his vision for the UK’s creative sector. Today’s speech is Labour’s third major policy address since the turn of the year; after Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves set out the party’s new economic stall last month, Starmer may expand here on what Labour will seek to offer the “country of creators” referred to in Reeves’ speech.
After two years of heavy classroom disruption, the Independent Assessment Commission on the current exam system in England publishes its report. The report follows an Education Commission report published by The Times which says a growing number of employers are ignoring exam results in favour of their own assessments, citing John Lewis chairwoman Dame Sharon White who says the exam system has become “even more narrow, limited and box-ticking.”
A second rise in two months looks to be on the cards when the Bank of England’s monetary policymakers announce their latest interest rate decision at noon today. Inflation has risen to a 30-year high since the MPC voted to increase the bank rate in December, and MPC member Catherine Mann suggested in a speech to the OMFIF financial think tank that the Bank would need to take further action during 2022 to reduce inflationary pressures.
Voters in the newly-designated city of Southend go to the polls to elect a new MP following the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess in October last year. The popular Amess, an Essex MP since the 1980s, saw his majority increase to more than 14,000 in 2019, and the posthumous victory in his long-running campaign to have city status awarded to Southend is sure to help Anna Firth hold the seat for the Conservatives against a small slate of independents and minor party candidates.
A big week for MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee: they’ll question Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko on Tuesday, before Liz Truss makes her first appearance at the committee since her appointment as Foreign Secretary. Today’s hearing is an all-purpose session on the work of the FCDO, with questions on Truss’s recent meetings with Maros Sefcovic and the government’s current position on the Ukraine situation likely at the top of the agenda.
Transport for London’s emergency funding is due to expire following the extension agreed with the government in December. The latest short-term deal brought the total received by TfL since May 2020 to over £4 billion, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan has accused ministers of attempting to implement a managed decline of the capital’s transport services by refusing to agree a longer-term funding arrangement.
NHS staff in England who have direct, face-to-face contact with patients must have received their first COVID jab today in order to be double vaccinated by the 1 April deadline or risk losing their jobs. NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer says that although most health leaders support the mandate, even a small reduction in staffing numbers could cause disruption in smaller industries such as primary care.
Chinese President Xi Jinping hosts his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for an in-person summit in Beijing coinciding with the opening ceremony for this year’s controversial Winter Olympics. The pair are set to discuss Russia’s ongoing war of words with the west over Ukraine, with some observers pointing to parallels with China’s ambitions towards Taiwan. Reports that Xi had urged Putin to delay any plans to invade Ukraine during the Olympics have been denied by Beijing as “sheer fiction”.
The action underway on the first full day of competition at the Winter Olympics. Saturday’s action sees athletes competing for the gold in biathlon, freestyle skiing, and short track speed skating, though Team GB are unlikely to trouble the medal table on the opening day. The first day of events also marks a moment of Olympic history for the Chinese capital as Beijing becomes the first city to host both the summer and winter editions of the Games.
The Six Nations begins with a blockbuster set of fixtures as injury-ravaged Wales kick off the defence of their title against Ireland, before Scotland and England do battle for the Calcutta Cup. England travel to Murrayfield without long-serving skipper Owen Farrell, though head coach Eddie Jones has so far held off on naming a new captain. Tournament favourites France face perennial wooden spoon winners Italy on Sunday to round off the opening weekend.
The Queen begins her year-long Platinum Jubilee with Accession Day, marking the day she assumed the role of monarch on 6 February, 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI. Following her traditional residency at Sandringham during this period, Britain’s longest-reigning sovereign celebrates her jubilee later in the year with a four-day bank holiday weekend in June.
The final of the Africa Cup of Nations takes place in Cameroon, where the hosts’ progress and the potential for a home tournament victory has been overshadowed by the deaths of eight fans in a crush outside a last-16 fixture against Comoros. At time of writing Cameroon remained on track to reach the final, which is scheduled to be played at the Olembe stadium, though five-times winners Egypt and 2019 finalists Senegal may stand in the Indomitable Lions’ way.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
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