A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.
Leading the week
Fresh from an international tour he hoped would distract from issues at home, Boris Johnson faces the Liaison Committee on Wednesday (July 6) to answer questions about Ukraine, the government’s response to the rising cost of living, and integrity in politics and the rule of law. Johnson will be most comfortable on Ukraine, though as this week’s row over defence spending showed, even that isn’t without its domestic problems. On the cost of living, the prime minister will try to point to the £37 billion package announced in May and the first £650 support payments going out to low-income households later this month. But he’ll also have to grapple with Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey’s recent warning that the UK’s economy is suffering more than others, and the wave of strikes being threatened or carried out by unions demanding pay rises to deal with inflation that is expected to hit 11 per cent this autumn – expect at least a few jabs at Labour on that one.
Johnson may struggle to redirect, though, when it comes to the integrity in politics and rule of law segment of the afternoon. The committee had no shortage of issues to choose from when they set the topic – the international law-breaking Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and steel import tariffs, two by-election losses related to sexual misconduct cases, and allegations over a mooted FCO job for Carrie Johnson are all just from the past fortnight, let alone Partygate – but the government’s handling of Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher’s resignation may end up taking centre stage.
Pincher resigned from his role last night after allegedly drunkenly groping two men at the Carlton Club, and early reports suggested he would not lose the whip or face investigation because he had ‘done the decent thing’ and resigned. That line seems unlikely to hold until Wednesday, but Johnson will face questions as to why Pincher was appointed in the first place: he was forced to resign from the whips’ office in 2017 over complaints about his behaviour, and more recent allegations of misconduct were reportedly raised with Number 10 in February before he was given the job.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove is due to issue a decision by Thursday (July 7) on whether to approve the UK’s first new coal mine for more than 30 years, after the local council decided to review its initial decision to give the go-ahead for the deep coal mine at Whitehaven. Cumbria County Council approved West Cumbria Mining’s application to mine coking coal at a former chemical works plant in 2020, but opted to reconsider its decision the following year, and the Planning Inspectorate completed a report in April setting next week’s deadline for a final ruling.
The question of whether to begin deep coal mining after such a long period has caused controversy in the area for many years: the council and local MPs have been in favour of the projected impact on jobs and the local economy and lately supportive of the potential disruption to Russian coal exports, while environmental groups (including the government’s own climate advisory body) have warned of the mine’s likely impact on emissions and questioned whether demand for coking coal remains high enough to justify resuming deep mining. The coal produced at Whitehaven would be used solely for steel production rather than energy generation so would not help to bring down household energy bills, meaning there is arguably no easy sell inherent in Gove’s decision, but Boris Johnson recently suggested to MPs that the plans are likely to be approved.
The fallout from the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling overturning the right to an abortion enshrined in Roe v. Wade is set to continue dominating the news in the US this week as state legislatures and courts consider abortion bans, so-called ‘trigger laws’, and appeals from abortion providers and civil liberties groups. Total bans have already taken effect in seven states, most of which do not include exceptions for rape or incest, and up to 26 states are expected to eventually enact varying levels of restrictions on reproductive rights in response to the ruling. Mississippi’s trigger law is set to take effect on Thursday (July 7) – pending a court challenge – while temporary restraining orders have been issued in Arizona, Louisiana and Utah, though these may yet be overturned. Hearings in cases challenging abortion bans are scheduled to take place on Wednesday (July 6) in Kentucky and Friday (July 8) in Arizona and Louisiana.
Following last week’s G7 and NATO summits where Ukraine dominated discussions, the conflict will continue to cast a shadow over international news next week. On Monday and Tuesday (July 4-5), Switzerland will play host to the Ukraine Recovery Conference, where attendees will discuss the scale of the damage caused by Russia’s war and what will be needed to eventually rebuild the country. The UN Human Rights Council will debate the situation in Ukraine on Tuesday (July 5), and the suspected Russian missile attack on a busy shopping mall in Kremenchuk on June 27, denounced as a war crime, and this morning’s strike on an apartment block in Odesa are almost certain to come up.
G20 foreign ministers, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, gather in Bali on Thursday and Friday (July 7-8) to discuss preparations for the G20 summit in November, amid conflicting reports regarding the potential presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Lavrov will meet one-to-one with several counterparts, including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, though Moscow has downplayed speculation in recent days over the potential for talks with Blinken, who is expected to meet with Wang in advance of planned talks between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.