A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.
Leading the week
The race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister will become a two-horse affair by Wednesday (July 20) as candidates are eliminated each day this week until the final pair are left standing. The dramatic opening days of the contest saw bold promises to slash taxes, allegations of dirty tricks from competing campaigns and last-minute withdrawals before the first round of voting. Early favourite Rishi Sunak topped the opening ballot, with Penny Mordaunt proving her credentials as the dark horse of the contest by finishing a strong second.
The five remaining hopefuls have a hustings event for the parliamentary party on Monday (July 18) as well as the chance to make their pitch more publicly in a series of televised debates, beginning with Channel 4 this evening and rounding off with Sky News on Tuesday (July 19). While Conservative Party members will have the final say after the top two are chosen, MPs will be keeping an eye on the public response to the candidates as they pitch their visions for government to those outside of the Westminster bubble, hoping to get a feel for who might appeal most in the next general election.
Amid all the action, the man still in charge in Downing Street will take to the despatch box on Wednesday (July 20) for his final Prime Minister’s Questions. It’s unlikely to be a quiet send-off for Boris Johnson, with supporters sure to seize the opportunity to talk up his achievements and perhaps fire off a few sly digs at the men and women trying to succeed him. Opposition leader Keir Starmer, meanwhile, will likely seek to continue Labour’s attacks on candidates’ spending and taxation promises as the party seeks to capitalise on its recent strong polling on economic issues.
As the race for the Tory leadership heats up, the country could also find itself sweltering in the hottest temperatures ever recorded during the early part of the week, as the current heatwave reaches its peak. The Met Office has issued its first-ever red extreme heat warning for Monday and Tuesday covering large parts of England, offering a 50 per cent chance that temperatures could top 40C in some areas and an 80 per cent chance of a new record. The UK’s current hottest day on record came in July 2019, when a temperature of 38.7C was reported in Cambridgeshire. Forecasters warned of ‘widespread impacts on people and infrastructure’ and urged people to consider changing routines to avoid risk of illness or loss of life.
The US House Committee on the January 6 attack is widely expected to hold its final scheduled hearing on Thursday (July 21). The prime time hearing will focus on how the events of that day unfolded from the perspective of those inside the White House, and Donald Trump’s ‘supreme dereliction of duty’ as he refused to act to stop the violence as it unfolded.
Following Joe Biden’s travel to the Middle East this week, all eyes will be on Tehran next week for the summit taking place on Tuesday (July 19) between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The three countries, all of whom have significant interests in Syria, are co-guarantors of what is known as the Astana peace process, and the situation in the country will be a key topic in their discussions. The gathering follows Russia’s ‘success’ last week at the United Nations in forcing through a resolution authorising aid to be delivered to Syria via Turkey for just six months, instead of a full year. Critics, including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, are concerned that alternative aid delivery routes would allow Moscow’s ally Bashar al-Assad to weaponise life-saving assistance.
Also look out for planned one-to-one meetings on the margins between Raisi and Putin, and Putin and Erdogan. Talks between the Russian and Iranian presidents, who met recently in Turkmenistan, will likely touch upon energy issues amid reports that increased Russian oil exports to China have come at the expense of Iran. Their meeting also follows warnings from the United States about potential deliveries of Iranian drones to Russia. When Erdogan and Putin meet, they are likely to discuss ongoing efforts to create a Black Sea corridor for Ukrainian exports following four-way talks with the UN and Ukraine in Istanbul earlier this week. Turkey is also expected to reiterate its offer to host broader peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.
In Sri Lanka, lawmakers are due to elect a new president on Wednesday (July 20) after Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country earlier this week, reportedly to Saudi Arabia. The election, assuming it goes ahead, comes as the country faces an unprecedented economic and political crisis that has seen protesters storm key government buildings, including Rajapaksa’s residence. Rajapaksa had been expected to formally tender his resignation on July 13, but he instead announced he was making new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acting president, prompting further demonstrations and the imposition of a curfew before his resignation was confirmed earlier today. Wickremesinghe is said to be the ruling party’s favoured candidate for president, but he has also been heavily criticised by protestors, who may not quietly accept giving him power for the six to eight months it’s expected to take to hold general elections.