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.
Advance will be taking break over the Christmas period, returning on January 6. In the meantime, you can download our 2023 calendar featuring over 500 key events to help you get a head start on planning for next year. We wish all of our readers a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year!
Leading the week
As the country winds down this week ahead of the start of the festive season, it’ll be anything but the relaxed run-up to Christmas that Whitehall officials have been craving after a chaotic year in Westminster. Immigration and asylum policy has rapidly become one of the defining issues facing the fledgling Sunak premiership, and scrutiny of the government’s approach will intensify on Monday (December 19) as the High Court rules on the controversial asylum deal with Rwanda. The court hands down its judgment in two judicial reviews brought by charities and campaigners, who used a hearing earlier this year to argue the proposed scheme is in direct contravention of the Refugee Convention. Ministers were also accused of ‘repeatedly ignoring’ concerns over Rwanda’s human rights record, but the government has staunchly defended the plan and claims it will also help tackle the recent spike in illegal Channel crossings.
The government has already paid Rwanda some £140m under the agreement, though the first planned deportation flight in June was stopped after a late intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. Tory backbencher Jonathan Gullis then failed in a last-ditch attempt to revive the scheme in the House of Commons on Wednesday, meaning the High Court will now determine whether the plan can proceed in 2023 or force policymakers back to the drawing board.
The traditional pre-recess debates on the final sitting day for MPs of the year will be overshadowed by Rishi Sunak’s first appearance before the Liaison Committee. The prime minister’s debut grilling by the chairs of select committees on Tuesday (December 20) comes after he surpassed his predecessor’s time in office this week, and represents a first opportunity for senior parliamentarians to quiz a PM since an embattled Boris Johnson faced them over six months ago. The session will focus on the big issues of 2022, with Sunak due to face questions on the war in Ukraine, the cost of living and the likely impact of the Autumn Statement on the prospects for the economy going into next year. With the hearing also coming hot on the heels of the first big policy announcement of the Sunak administration, we may also get some additional detail on his plan to clear the UK’s asylum backlog over the next 12 months and his response to Monday’s judgment.
Leaders from the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), whose members also include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, are due to meet in the Latvian capital Riga on Monday (December 19) for a summit focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine and its ramifications for northern Europe. The assembled leaders will likely address, among other subjects, September’s suspected attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea that carry gas from Russia to Europe. In November, Swedish authorities announced that they had determined the incident was caused by ‘gross sabotage’, though they stopped short of making any accusations as to who was behind the attacks. Many have pointed the finger at Russia, though its motivation isn’t immediately obvious; the Kremlin slammed such suggestions as ‘stupid and absurd’ before the country’s defence ministry accused Britain of having carried out the attacks.
The US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will hold its last hearing on Monday (December 19) before releasing its final report on Wednesday (December 21). The panel’s Democratic chair Bennie Thompson has teased the prospect of fresh evidence at Monday’s hearing, which will conclude with votes to adopt the report as well as referrals – including criminal ones – based on its findings. The final report is expected to include a significant emphasis on the role Donald Trump allegedly played in inciting the insurrection, something that has reportedly rankled some current and former committee staffers uneasy about a potential conflict of interest in Liz Cheney’s focus on Trump, given speculation about her potential candidacy in 2024. In any case, the report’s release is expected to be met immediately with fierce criticism from Republicans, who have sought to portray the committee as partisan from the start, with GOP leader Kevin McCarthy having described the panel as a ‘political weapon to further divide our country’.