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 makes his third appearance before the Liaison Committee on Tuesday (July 4), in what may be a bit of a déjà vu for the prime minister, who faced questions on the Rwanda deportations, NHS pay rises, and inflation when he last appeared before MPs in March. Home Affairs Committee chair Diana Johnson is up first, and while that segment of the hearing is due to focus on Ukraine and security matters, small boats are likely to come up again after the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the Rwanda policy is unlawful.
And it won’t get any easier from there: the committee chairs are due to grill Sunak on the cost of living amid stubborn inflation levels and increasing interest rates, as well as on public services, with teachers, junior doctors and NHS consultants all poised to strike over the next fortnight. The section on constitutional matters may also be awkward for the prime minister after 10 Conservative MPs and peers were accused of mounting ‘vociferous attacks’ on the Privileges Committee in the wake of its report into Boris Johnson, while the questions on climate change come after Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith resigned with a scathing attack on Sunak’s climate leadership in the wake of the Climate Change Committee’s annual progress report.
London Conservatives still reeling from losing a mayoral candidate hopeful this week will be looking to shift attention to what they see as a vote-winner as five Tory-led councils take Sadiq Khan to the High Court on Tuesday (July 4) over his flagship ULEZ expansion scheme. Khan plans to expand the current Ultra Low Emission Zone to all 33 boroughs from August 29, and use the £400 million it is projected to generate in its first two years to expand bus and cycle lanes in the capital.
Harrow, Hillingdon, Bromley, Bexley and Surrey County Council are challenging the expansion, accusing Khan of over-extending his powers and pitching Tuesday’s hearing as an ‘Independence Day’ for outer London. Defeat for Khan will raise hopes of a Conservative victory at the London mayoral election next May, while even a delay in the planned expansion will see it become a central issue of the campaign and increase the pressure on a mayor seen as ‘beatable’ by the opposition.
Senior royals are in Scotland next week for Holyrood Week, with attention focused on a ‘Coronation-lite’ at St Giles’ Cathedral on Wednesday (July 5). A People’s Procession will escort the Honours of Scotland from Edinburgh Castle to the cathedral, where they’ll be presented to King Charles III during a national service of thanksgiving, capped with a 21-gun salute and a red arrows flypast. The royal procession to and from the Palace of Holyroodhouse may be reminiscent of the scenes following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September, but civil liberties groups will also be keeping a close eye on police during the celebrations. Four people were arrested in Edinburgh in September for breaching the peace during proclamation ceremonies, and 64 people in London ahead of and during the King’s coronation in May in what was criticised as a ‘heavy-handed’ operation. Anti-monarchist group Republic, whose chief executive Graham Smith was among those detained, have planned #NotMyKing protests against what they call ‘another reckless waste of public money’.
Emmanuel Macron pays a state visit to Germany on Monday and Tuesday (July 3-4) as the two countries continue to mend relations following disagreements last year, notably over energy and defence issues, that led to a delay in their annual joint cabinet meeting. While differences remain (notably over China), the visit will focus on the strong ties between the EU’s most powerful members. The programme starts in Stuttgart, where the French president and his wife Brigitte are welcomed with military honours by German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier before the pair take part in a discussion on artificial intelligence. Macron then heads to Berlin, where he holds a joint press conference with Steinmeier before taking a boat trip with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the Spree and visiting Brandenburg Gate. A state banquet takes place that evening.
On Tuesday, Macron heads to Dresden, where his schedule includes what is likely to be the key moment of his visit, an address on the Neumarkt in front of the Frauenkirche. Macron’s visit follows three days of widespread protests in France after a police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old during a traffic stop, and questions about the ongoing violence – and whether Macron should be out of the country at all – may overshadow the trip, which is still due to go ahead at time of writing.
With the NATO summit in Vilnius just around the corner, a critical meeting takes place between Sweden and Turkey in Brussels on Thursday (July 6) as efforts continue to secure ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership before the gathering. Despite a renewed drive following Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s re-election, a breakthrough has proved elusive – the decision this week to allow a (one-man) Quran book-burning protest in Stockholm timed to coincide with Eid al-Adha has reignited tensions amid the ongoing dispute rooted in Sweden’s large Kurdish community, which Turkey says includes PKK terrorists.
Ultimately, though, the near-term fate of Sweden’s bid may end up being decided in another European capital; alongside Turkey, Hungary has also held off on ratifying Sweden’s application, though for different reasons, and earlier this week the country’s parliament reportedly delayed a planned vote until the autumn. Barring a last-minute change, then, Sweden hopes of becoming NATO’s 32nd member in time for the summit could be dashed regardless of whether its dispute with Turkey is resolved.