A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.
Leading the week
The gloves came off during a suitably dramatic first full week of campaigning as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss squared off in TV debates and elaborated on the policies that they hope will sway the Tory party members who will decide which candidate gets the keys to No.10 in September. Monday’s BBC debate between the pair was a feisty affair, with testy clashes over inflation and taxes likely to have further worried Parliamentary colleagues about the impact of blue-on-blue attacks on the party’s reputation as it moves on from Boris Johnson’s leadership. After a second head-to-head this week was unfortunately cut short when TalkTV host Kate McCann fainted, the stage is set for a Sky News debate on Thursday (August 4).
Truss and Sunak have also had the opportunity to get more specific on regional issues (and Love Island) as membership hustings started this week. Having had a go at proving which of them is more northern for the first event in Leeds, they’ll need to come up with some new angles for this week’s hustings in Exeter, Cardiff and Eastbourne (August 1, 3 and 5 respectively). Next week’s events represent the final opportunity for the candidates to generate favourable headlines before ballots are sent out to members by Friday (August 5), and we could see the contest intensify as the former Cabinet colleagues seek to gain the upper hand in the early stages of voting.
The funeral of former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble takes place in Lisburn on Monday (August 1) following his death on July 25 at the age of 77. Lord Trimble played an instrumental role in the negotiations surrounding the Good Friday Agreement; among countless tributes from across the globe, Tony Blair described Lord Trimble’s contribution to the UK and Northern Ireland as ‘immense, unforgettable, and frankly irreplaceable’, while former US President Bill Clinton said that his ‘lifetime of service helped bring peace to Northern Ireland’. A special session of the Northern Ireland Assembly also takes place on Tuesday (August 2) for Members to pay tribute.
The new Premier League season kicks off in London on Friday (August 5) as Crystal Palace welcome Arsenal to Selhurst Park. Liverpool, last year’s bridesmaids in both the Premier League and the Champions League, begin their campaign away to Fulham on Saturday (August 6) while defending champions Manchester City face West Ham on Sunday (August 7). Other highlights across the weekend include newcomers Nottingham Forest facing Newcastle in their first Premier League match for 23 years, while Erik Ten Hag takes charge of his first home game as Manchester United manager on Sunday as Brighton visit Old Trafford.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan travels to Sochi on Friday (August 5) to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, their second meeting in just over two weeks. Erdogan’s relationship with Putin has allowed Ankara to take a leading diplomatic role in the Ukraine conflict – Turkey hosted talks with both sides and the UN last week, which led to the signing of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on Friday and the inauguration of a Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul earlier this week to organise the safe resumption of grain exports from Ukraine. Officials are hoping the first ship could leave as early as today, but the agreement – which also helps to smooth the way for Russian fertiliser and food exports – is expected to feature prominently on the agenda.
Southeast Asian foreign ministers wrap up a week of meetings in Phnom Penh on Friday (August 5) with the ASEAN Regional Forum, which includes 11 partner countries for talks on Indo-Pacific security. There’s no shortage of regional issues to discuss: North Korea-watchers are concerned that Pyongyang is once again refusing to send a high-level representative as the country looks to be preparing another nuclear test, while Myanmar’s foreign minister had already been excluded from the meetings before four high-profile activists and politicians were executed this week despite ASEAN’s plea to reconsider their sentences. But there will be a fair amount of attention on the sidelines of the gathering, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov both due to attend. The pair avoided each other at last month’s G20 meeting in Bali, but there is speculation that a meeting could be on the cards next week after Blinken announced plans for a call to discuss a potential prisoner swap to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan.