A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
This week sees space exploration re-enter the orbit of the news agenda as Russia and India vie to land spacecraft on the moon’s south pole. On Monday (August 21), the Lunar-25 probe launched by Russian space agency Roscosmos earlier this month is due to land on the lunar south pole, where it is scheduled to spend a year analysing lunar soil and searching for traces of ice water. Moscow will be keen to emphasise the acclaim that comes in becoming the first nation to land on the lunar southern pole amid rising interest rates and a tumbling rouble. The Russians will not have to wait long to see their achievement matched; India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission is expected to make its own landing on the southern pole just two days later on Wednesday (August 23), having travelled around the Earth’s orbit multiple times since launching on July 14.
Quarterly stats are released on Thursday (August 24) on immigration and irregular migration to the UK at a time when the issue continues to dominate the political landscape. Around 17,000 people have crossed the Channel so far this year after Rishi Sunak made stopping the boats one of his five priorities in Government. The Prime Minister had cause for alarm this week when refugees were evacuated from his the Bibby Stockholm, the flagship policy vessel, after an outbreak of legionella. With reports refugees will not be admitted back on board for weeks, Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman will be scrambling for alternatives after reports the EU has rejected a return policy and some helpfully-timed friendly fire from Conservative Deputy Party Chairman Lee Anderson.
Ofgem will announce the next change to the energy price cap on Friday (August 25) after its last update was cited as a major factor in the fall in inflation recorded in July. The regulator’s next change will take effect in October and is expected to result in bills coming down again, and signs are good for a relatively stable winter period for consumers with many providers also recently launching new fixed-rate deals in response to falling wholesale prices. However, ahead of Friday’s announcement the Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley warned in a Guardian interview that the price cap may not be the best mechanism to support those most in need in the context of the past couple of years of market volatility, suggesting the issue of what to do about energy bills will remain a key issue in the lead up to the next election.
The first debate of the Republican presidential primary takes place next Wednesday (August 23) in Milwaukee as Donald Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination seek to make a dent in the now four-times-indicted former president’s commanding lead in the polls. The final line-up will be confirmed on Monday (August 21), though Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Doug Burgum, Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie all appear to have qualified. Of course, the big question is whether Trump himself will take part, having suggested he might not while leaving the door open for a dramatic last-minute appearance in a week in which he also faces a deadline to surrender by Friday (August 25) following his indictment on state RICO charges by Fulton County DA Fani Willis.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hosts this year’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg from Tuesday to Thursday (August 22-24). Russia’s Vladimir Putin won’t be attending in person, saving South African authorities the headache of having to decide whether to arrest Putin or ignore their obligations to act on the ICC arrest warrant issued in March against Putin. But China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi, and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are all due to attend the summit, with Xi paying a rare state visit on Tuesday ahead of the gathering before they join Modi and Lula for a BRICS business forum discussion followed by a private retreat.
On the agenda for the summit is the contentious topic of expanding the grouping, with some 20 countries – including Argentina, Belarus, Cuba, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Venezuela – having expressed formal interest in joining, though the conflict in Ukraine will inevitably loom large over the gathering. As it happens, the country marks its independence on Thursday (August 24), exactly 18 months since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022. At the UN in New York, current UN Security Council presidency holders the United States have scheduled a meeting that day on the conflict in Ukraine.