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
Joe Biden makes a quick stop in London on Monday (July 10) for his fourth meeting with Rishi Sunak in as many months. While Ukraine and NATO are the obvious focus for the talks ahead of the bloc’s summit on Tuesday (more on that below), it’s also become a bit of a touchy subject since they last met. When the pair sat down in Washington in June, the British press seized on Biden’s (in hindsight fairly lukewarm) praise of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace as a signal that the US president could be ready to back Wallace’s candidacy to become the next NATO Secretary General. A month on, rumours abound that Biden was in fact responsible for blocking Wallace’s bid and wants to see European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen land the job when Jens Stoltenberg’s extended term ends next year – expect awkward questions on the row if a joint press conference is on the agenda.
Biden’s also due to meet with King Charles for the first time since the monarch’s coronation, though it won’t be the grand State Visit that was touted in April after it emerged that Biden was skipping the ceremony. Still, the White House will be hoping some friendly photos from the meeting will help thaw the relationship and quell accusations that that the US president is ‘anti-British’. The pair are expected to discuss climate change, and any emphatic calls for action from the famously environmentally conscious king will be contrasted with recent criticisms of Sunak’s commitment to climate efforts.
The annual Mansion House dinner on Monday (July 10) will be the prelude to a week of useful indicators of the health of the UK economy from a macro perspective after another glut of bad news over the past few days. Fresh from accusing retailers of overcharging consumers during the cost of living crisis, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey may use his speech to the City showpiece to address the latest forecasts of ever-increasing interest rates; Jeremy Hunt, meanwhile, may speak to the government’s longer term plans to stimulate growth (unless he has more to say about Nigel Farage’s bank account). The rest of the week brings the latest snapshot of employment and wages from the ONS on Tuesday (July 11), the Bank of England’s biannual report on the stability of the UK’s financial sector on Wednesday (July 12), a monthly GDP estimate and the OBR’s fiscal risks and sustainability report on Thursday (July 13), and another ONS release on the impact of the rising cost of living to round the week off on Friday (July 14).
The Lucy Letby murder trial could be coming to a close, with the jury due to begin deliberations on Monday (July 10). The trial, which began in October, sees Letby, a former nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital, charged with eight counts of murder and 10 counts of attempted murder relating to her work at the neonatal unit. Letby has denied murdering eight babies, telling Manchester Crown Court that she is being made a scapegoat for the hospital. Summing up in court this week, Justice James Goss urged jurors to approach deliberations in a ‘fair, calm, objective and analytical way’. Due to its longevity and the seriousness of the charges, the trial has become one of the most high-profile in the history of British justice, dominating the front pages and even spawning a podcast.
Sunak and Biden will both travel to Vilnius on Tuesday (July 11) for the NATO Summit, where the conflict in Ukraine is top of the agenda. As well as discussing how to support the war effort, leaders are due to address the question of Ukraine’s bid to join the alliance once the conflict ends, amid renewed pressure from Kyiv for concrete commitments to be included in the outcomes from the summit. On Wednesday (July 12), NATO leaders are joined by a group of non-members, including Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. The decision to invite this particular set of leaders comes after China was officially labelled a security challenge to NATO at last year’s summit, and follows a recent warning from China’s new defence minister Li Shangfu that creating NATO-like alliances in the region would ‘plunge the Asia-Pacific into a whirlpool of disputes and conflicts’.
Among the dozens of bilaterals that are likely on the sidelines of the summit, a rumoured meeting between Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday (July 11) will be closely watched for news of an agreement for the UK to rejoin the Horizon Europe research programme. If Sunak does manage to get the Horizon deal signed off, the government will be able to bookend the week with announcements on post-Brexit achievements, as the UK is expected to sign the agreement on accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership when CPTPP ministers meet in Auckland on Sunday (July 16).