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
The controversial expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone comes into effect on Tuesday (August 29) despite fierce opposition from councils and campaigners. Initially introduced in central London in 2019, the new ULEZ will cover all of London’s 32 boroughs, meaning drivers of high-polluting vehicles such as certain diesel cars, vans and older motorcycles will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to drive within the city. The expansion recently became a wedge issue in the Uxbridge and Ruislip parliamentary by-election in July, with many commentators pointing to the Labour Party’s tacit support for the expansion as a contributing factor to the Tories’ narrow victory in the seat. Any hopes of a prospective government block on the expansion were quashed this week when government lawyers advised the courts would reject any attempt to halt the scheme, as the High Court did in July when five Conservative-run councils challenged the plans.
Refugees who fled the Taliban in Afghanistan face a deadline to leave temporary accommodation on Thursday (August 31) as part of government plans to clear the number of people living in hotels two years on from the fall of Kabul. Despite pleas from local councils for more support, the government maintains that hotels shouldn’t be used as long-term accommodation and that refugees will need to leave by the end of the month. Veterans’ Affairs Minister Johnny Mercer has vowed that no families will be left on the streets, though councils argue that many refugees have nowhere to go as housing shortages and discrimination have made it difficult to find private rentals.
Thursday also marks the government’s own deadline to clear a backlog of applications for its much-criticised Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP). The scheme was designed as a safe immigration route to aid current and former UK government staff escaping the Taliban, but the application process was beset by delays, with over 70,000 people awaiting a decision at the beginning of the year and only two applications processed between April and June. Campaigners and senior Conservatives have urged the government to do more to help those who worked alongside British forces after it emerged that an Afghan pilot who fought the Taliban had been threatened with deportation to Rwanda after arriving via the Channel.
Connor Gibson is sentenced on Friday (September 1) in one of the most disturbing cases in recent memory. Gibson was found guilty of sexually assaulting his 16-year-old sister Amber, intending to rape her, before murdering her in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, in November 2021. Stephen Corrigan, who found Amber’s body but was found guilty of intimately touching her and then concealing her body rather than telling police, is sentenced on September 4. Amber’s relatives have accused social services of having blood on their hands, as the siblings spent most of their lives in the care system. Foster parents Craig and Carol Niven revealed how they wouldn’t leave the pair in each other’s company, remarking they ‘were not a good mix’, but they were still able to spend time together when Amber was moved to a children’s unit when she was 14. An independent review into the care Amber received before her murder is likely to be published next month.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly may make his long-awaited trip to Beijing next week amid a furious debate over the UK’s relationship with China. According to Reuters, Cleverly is due to arrive in Beijing on Tuesday (August 29) for a short visit, which was rescheduled from last month after China’s then-Foreign Minister Qin Gang disappeared from public view for weeks, only to be replaced by his predecessor Wang Yi. While neither side has officially confirmed the trip, it has made waves among China hawks in the UK, with Iain Duncan Smith calling on Cleverly to cancel the visit following reports that a Chinese spy has been using LinkedIn ‘on an industrial scale’ to target British officials and attempt steal state secrets.
The US legal drama over the fallout from the 2020 election continues on Monday (August 28), when a DC court is expected to set a trial date in the federal case against former President Donald Trump over his efforts to overturn the election. Special Counsel Jack Smith has requested that the trial begin on January 2, while Trump’s legal team has countered with what it calls a ‘more reasonable schedule’ that wouldn’t see proceedings get underway until April 2026 – well after the 2024 election.
On Wednesday (August 30), three days of sentencing hearings get underway for former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four other men following convictions in May over their roles in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. All but one of the five were found guilty of seditious conspiracy, and prosecutors are seeking 33-year prison sentences for Tarrio, who is sentenced on Wednesday, and top lieutenant Joseph Biggs, whose hearing follows on Thursday (August 31). To date, the longest sentence that has been handed down over the insurrection is the 18 years given to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.