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
MPs may be breaking up for recess but there’s likely to be an absence of summer holiday vibes among Conservatives with the party braced for defeat in three by-elections being held on Thursday (July 20). The pick of the bunch is former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge constituency, where the Labour Party is hoping for a symbolic victory despite Tory attempts to turn the vote into a referendum on the ULEZ scheme. In Somerset, the stage is set for the famous Lib Dem campaign machine to produce another by-election upset in what could be a marker for next year’s general election, while even a commanding 20,000 majority in Nigel Adams’ Selby is unlikely to be enough to save the party from the ignominy of a hat-trick of defeats. Results from all three will be announced on Friday (July 21).
Embattled BBC director general Tim Davie faces another grilling on his leadership in the wake of the Huw Edwards scandal when he appears before the Lords Communications Committee on Tuesday (July 18) alongside BBC director of policy Clare Sumner and acting chair Dame Elan Closs Stephens. Davie has confirmed the BBC is conducting its own internal investigation into allegations made in The Sun that Edwards paid a teenager for explicit images, after the Met Police ruled no crime had been committed. Davie may also face questions on the culture at the BBC after further claims were made that Edwards had sent ‘inappropriate messages’ to junior BBC staff who were reluctant to make formal complaints, prompting an investigation from fellow presenter Victoria Derbyshire.
This isn’t the first scandal Davie has had to face off since being appointed to the role in 2020. There were calls in March for him to resign after suspending the corporation’s highest paid presenter, Gary Lineker, over remarks he made about Suella Braverman, only to reinstate him after a public backlash and boycott from BBC pundits.
Two highly anticipated movies, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, are both out on Friday (July 21) in a cultural phenomenon that has been dubbed ‘Barbenheimer’. Barbie, starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, sees Barbie set off into the real world after deciding she doesn’t fit into the utopian Barbieland, while Oppenheimer is a historical drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy), the scientist who led the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb. The internet is flush with memes comparing the duelling releases, with fans even sharing their opinions on the proper way and order in which they should be watched. AMC Theatres said more than 20,000 AMC Stubs members have already purchased tickets to see both films on the release date.
Following this week’s Ukraine-focused NATO leaders’ summit, the conflict is set to remain high on the news agenda next week as the agreement on facilitating grain exports via the Black Sea expires on Monday (July 17) unless Russia agrees to an extension. Although Russia has previously threatened to block an extension only to relent at the last minute, there are fears this time could be different amid fresh tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who brokered the original deal.
As it happens, Monday’s deadline coincides with a ministerial-level meeting at the UN Security Council on Ukraine, chaired by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (who will also chair the first-ever session on the threat posed by AI on Tuesday) and attended by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Kuleba is also due to take part in a General Assembly debate on Tuesday (July 18) on the situation in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
The conflict is also likely to loom large over this year’s Aspen Security Forum, which opens on Tuesday (July 18) with an address from US Ambassador to the UN Linda Greenfield-Thomas. The forum features a host of top-level speakers over the following days: Cleverly speaks on Wednesday (July 19), followed by CIA Director William Burns on Thursday (July 20), and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Friday (July 21).
Voters in both Spain and Cambodia go to the polls on Sunday (July 23). In Spain, the elections are being held early after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the snap vote in the wake of a crushing defeat for his Socialist party in local and regional elections last month at the hands of the conversative PP and far-right Vox parties. The election in Cambodia, meanwhile, follows a decision in May to ban the country’s sole opposition, the Candlelight Party, meaning Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party is guaranteed to win. For good measure, Hun announced in June that he was amending the country’s election laws to bar anyone who fails to vote from running as a candidate in future elections.