Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…
The week begins with monthly GDP figures showing how much the economy grew in February, marking the first official update since the Office for Budget Responsibility slashed its growth forecast for 2022 last month. The previous data showed the UK economy grew by 0.8% in the first month of the year after falling at the end of 2021 as the Omicron variant began to spread more widely.
EU foreign ministers gather in Brussels for a meeting that will once again be dominated by discussions about Ukraine and the bloc’s response to the Kremlin’s aggression. Ministers will also consider the question of a ban on Russian oil imports after High Representative Josep Borrell revealed to MEPs the extent of EU energy payments to Moscow since the war began. A ban on Russian coal imports is expected to take effect during the summer.
Those of us with a few billion pounds burning a hole in our pockets have until today to table an offer to buy Chelsea Football Club. Roman Abramovich (pictured) announced the club would be sold just a week before being sanctioned by the UK government over links to Putin in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Numerous interested parties are already believed to have tabled offers, including a consortium led by US businessman Todd Boehly and a bid from the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts family.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Philipson speaks on the second day of the National Education Union’s annual conference in Bournemouth. Phillipson has recently criticised Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi’s Schools White Paper, saying it came “no way near” addressing the scale of the challenge facing children who have endured two years of disrupted learning due to the pandemic.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook is scheduled to open the IAPP Global Privacy Summit in Washington, which will also feature interventions from EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders, Microsoft president Brad Smith, and UK information commissioner John Edwards. Cook’s passionate defence of privacy has frequently put him at odds with policymakers, and the address comes just days after Apple dropped out of a US trade policy coalition over claims that the group was pushing for legislation that was friendlier to tech industry concerns than consumer privacy.
Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens appears at Westminster Magistrates Court charged with four counts of indecent exposure. Couzens is alleged to have committed the offences in Kent in January and February of last year, just weeks before he went on to kidnap 33-year-old Everard. The former Met Police officer is currently serving a whole-life prison term after admitting to the murder.
The Office for National Statistics publishes inflation data for March, with no sign of an end to the cost of living crisis that has seen the Consumer Prices Index rise to its highest point since 1997. Energy costs and fuel prices were, unsurprisingly, the main drivers behind the 6.2% increase recorded in February, and an ONS business survey released ahead of today’s figures suggests concern over those factors remains high even after the Chancellor’s spring statement.
Two short-term reforms to the energy market, announced by Ofgem in February as stiff price increases were starting to hit households across the UK, are due to take effect from today. The measures require suppliers to pay a Market Stabilisation Charge when acquiring new customers and to make all tariffs available to new and existing customers, a move designed to end the so-called “loyalty penalty”.
The Royal Family attend the annual Maundy service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, where the Queen has reportedly taken up permanent residence. Although the monarch traditionally attends the service, decisions on recent events have been made on the day and several have been cancelled at the last minute. The Queen is expected to continue holding most of her engagements at the castle due to mobility issues.
Commuters and holidaymakers face the prospect of disrupted journeys across London due to a raft of planned closures to several lines, including the key Piccadilly line route to Heathrow for the entire bank holiday weekend. Parts of the Northern line and the entire Hammersmith & City and District lines will shut down for TfL engineering works, while a Network Rail upgrade project means there will be no trains going into or out of Euston on the first long weekend since the end of all Covid restrictions.
Coachella returns to Palm Springs for the first time since 2019. This year’s headliners include Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd, who are replacing Kanye West in the Sunday slot. The cancellation marks West’s latest withdrawal from the spotlight following his suspension from Instagram over repeated attacks against ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s boyfriend Pete Davidson. Rapper Travis Scott had been due to join West on stage in what would have been his first major performance since the Astroworld disaster last year in which nine people died.
The twice-delayed 2020 edition of the Invictus Games finally gets underway in the Netherlands. The Hague plays host to some 500 injured servicemen and women from 20 countries, competing in events including athletics, cycling, swimming, and archery. The event’s founder, the Duke of Sussex, spoke with members of Team UK recently as they gathered for their final training camp, aiming to top their hugely successful medal haul of 72 in the 2018 Games. Prince Harry is expected to attend today’s opening ceremony, despite not travelling to the UK for the recent memorial service for the Duke of Edinburgh.
It is a weekend of cup semi-finals north and south of the border. At Wembley, a huge clash between the Premier League’s top two on Saturday will decide whether Manchester City or Liverpool faces the winners of Sunday’s game, which sees Crystal Palace take on sanctions-hit Chelsea.
Meanwhile, in the Scottish FA Cup, Hampden Park hosts Scotland’s two biggest derbies. The capital’s top clubs face off on Saturday as Hearts play Hibs, while on Sunday the most heated rivalry in Scottish football is reignited when Celtic take on Rangers. The Ibrox club will be hoping their fans adopt a more measured attitude in the cup following significant fan disorder in the wake of their loss in the Old Firm league game on 3 April.
We round off the week with Easter Sunday, a chance for Christians across the world to mark the resurrection of Jesus. In the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby hosts Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral and later, Solemn Mass in Westminster, while in Rome, Pope Francis presides over Holy Mass in St Peter’s Square.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Reuters / Dylan Martinez