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
Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer may have started 2023 by promising to move beyond the issues that dogged the UK across the previous year, but the picture remains much the same for many as the return to work coincided with widespread industrial action and news of skyrocketing prices. The prime minister made a series of promises in his New Year speech earlier this week, pledging to focus the government’s efforts on reducing NHS waiting lists, cutting inflation and reducing small boat crossings from France, while the leader of the opposition said Labour would set out national missions to begin a decade of ‘national renewal’.
While Sunak may have promised a better future, in the immediate term his government still needs to find a way to end the wave of strikes that defined the tail end of 2022. Next week brings an opportunity for ministers to gauge the public’s support for the ongoing industrial action as ambulance staff walk out for a second time on Wednesday (January 11), with potential teacher strike dates due to be announced after the close of NASUWT (Monday) and NAHT (Wednesday) ballots. A junior doctors’ ballot opens Monday (January 9), with the BMA promising a 72-hour strike in March if members vote for action, before further walkouts by bus and train drivers, Scottish teachers and DVSA staff round out the week.
After union leaders’ repeated calls for pay negotiations to take place directly with ministers, they appear to have got their pre-Christmas wish with the invitation to a meeting with Rishi Sunak on Monday, though the reaction to the government’s new anti-strike legislation, which could be introduced to Parliament next week before a first debate the week after, suggests it would be unwise to expect a quick resolution to the deadlock.
The relentless coverage of the Duke of Sussex’s new memoir, Spare, will continue as the week kicks off with the fallout from two prime-time interviews on Sunday night, when Prince Harry sits down with ITV’s Tom Bradby and 60 Minutes’ Anderson Cooper. While the biggest bombshells from the book have already been covered thanks to a Guardian leak and an early on-sale in Spain, media will be parsing the prince’s interview responses for new angles ahead of the actual publication on Tuesday (January 10) – a teaser from ITV has already seen the Duke claim his family have shown ‘absolutely no willingness to reconcile’ their differences. And while the English version won’t provide any new material, expect the story to stay in the headlines as more people get their hands on a copy and the clamour for a hint of a reaction from Buckingham Palace continues.
The first ever UK rocket launch could get underway this week as Virgin Orbit prepares its carrier plane for a targeted lift-off on Monday (January 9) at 22:16 GMT. The Start Me Up mission, named after the Rolling Stones song, involves launching a 747 jumbo jet from Cornwall Spaceport in Newquay, which itself will launch a rocket when travelling over the southwest coast of Ireland that is designed to carry nine satellites into orbit. The company have set a series of backup launch dates from January 13-20 should any complications arise in the run-up to the mission launch.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida kicks off a tour that will see him meet nearly all of the G7 leaders to mark Japan’s presidency of the grouping this year. Kishida starts in Paris on Monday (January 9), holding talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, followed by a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome (Tuesday) and then travelling to London to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday (January 11). While most media focus will be on Kishida’s meeting with US President Joe Biden later in the week, his talks with Sunak will give the leaders a chance to discuss the UK’s potential accession to the CPTPP Pacific trade agreement after momentum stalled last year. Discussions will also focus on North Korea and Ukraine, with Japan eager to pair its G7 and current UN Security Council presidencies to promote international cohesion and the rule of law. Kishida travels on to Ottawa on Thursday for a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, followed by the White House summit on Friday (January 13).
Fans of parliamentary procedure have watched in fascination (and maybe a bit of schadenfreude) this week as the US House of Representatives has failed 11 times (and counting) to elect a Speaker after a group of 20 right-wing Republicans refused to vote for Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy had been so sure of his election after the GOP won a small majority in the November midterms that he had already moved his belongings into the Speaker’s office, but the drama could continue into next week if the ‘Taliban 20’ continue to stand in his way in this afternoon’s vote(s). If negotiations succeed and we do get a Speaker by the end of the day, lawmakers can finally be sworn in and next week will be a matter of dealing with the fallout, with the MAGA wing of the party anxious to get started on promised investigations into Biden and his family.
Biden, meanwhile, will be in Mexico City for the North American Leaders’ Summit with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday (January 10). Despite an official agenda that also includes climate change, competitiveness and health, discussions will focus heavily on migration following Biden’s announcement yesterday on new immigration pathways for some Central Americans. The talks with AMLO will come on the heels of Biden’s first visit to the southern border as president when he stops in El Paso on Sunday (January 8).