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
Three years on and after weeks of public wrangling over ministerial communications, the Covid-19 inquiry kicks off in earnest next week as evidence hearings begin on Tuesday (June 13) in the module looking at the UK’s preparedness and resilience. Inquiry chair Baroness Hallett will deliver a statement to open proceedings, followed by a short film focused on experiences of loss suffered by people across the UK affected by the pandemic. Hearings are scheduled to continue over the next six weeks and will see a steady stream of notable figures called as witnesses, with former prime minister David Cameron and former Chancellor George Osborne expected to give evidence amid speculation the inquiry will look at the impact of austerity policies on NHS preparedness.
Next week’s witnesses include Professor Sir Michael Marmot, chair of the 2010 Marmot Review into health inequalities, who is scheduled to appear on Friday (June 16). The initial set of hearings from Module 1 is due to run until July 20, with the potentially more scandalous Module 2 – examining the core decision making and political governance of the Johnson government – set to open in autumn.
Immigration continues to dominate the agenda next week with some key developments in the government’s plans to tackle the small boats crisis. The last legal attempts to stop asylum seeker camps being built in Wethersfield and Scampton are heard on Monday (June 12) in the Court of Appeal. Should these prove unsuccessful, the government will be given the green light to start building the camps, with plans to move people in later this summer. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced this week that the first of the asylum seeker barges, the Bibby Stockholm, which will be berthed at Portland Port, is expected to receive male asylum seekers by the end of June.
The government’s plans to send migrants further afield are also in the spotlight as the House of Lords continues consideration of the Illegal Migration Bill on Monday and Wednesday (June 12 and 14) following a marathon session this week. Several peers, including Conservative former immigration minister Lord Timothy Kirkhope, have voiced their opposition to the legislation and have tabled an amendment that would prevent the government from breaching international treaties with plans to remove any asylum seekers who arrive via small boat crossings. Sunak’s plans will face further scrutiny on Friday (June 16), when the National Audit Office publishes its report on the government’s plans to transform the asylum system.
The latest instalment of an unwanted ratings-winner for ITV will play out on Wednesday (June 14) when chief executive Carolyn McCall is quizzed by MPs on the channel’s handling of Philip Schofield’s relationship with an employee and subsequent departure from This Morning. The drama began amid rumours of a rift between Schofield and his co-host Holly Willoughby and has led to the effective end of the daytime TV stalwart’s career amid suggestions that there is a toxic culture at ITV, with presenters from multiple programmes on the channel speaking out since Schofield announced his departure from the famous sofa.
In a Culture, Media and Sport committee session on the draft Media Bill last week, ITV executive Magnus Brooke faced questions about the atmosphere on This Morning and the heavily-criticised comments from editor Martin Frizzell, though Wednesday’s hearing with McCall will involve a much more in-depth review of ITV’s initial investigation into Schofield’s affair and the channel’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling. As a prelude to the ITV hearing, the committee will question the BBC’s director general Tim Davie and chief content officer Charlotte Moore on Tuesday (June 13) in a session which is likely feature questions on recent strike action by staff and the corporation’s plans to make further cuts to local radio services.
Donald Trump will appear in court in Miami on Tuesday (June 13), making history once again by becoming the first former (or sitting) president to appear charged in federal court as he is arraigned over his handling of records. Trump’s court appearance once more puts his would-be rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in the awkward position of backing the former president or appearing to side with an allegedly ‘weaponised’ Department of Justice. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who this week officially entered the race, may be the exception to the rule, and the former Trump-ally-turned-arch-critic is scheduled to take part in a live CNN town hall on Monday (June 12) night, having said he would wait for charges to be confirmed before making a judgement.
The wide-ranging ramifications from the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine on Tuesday mean the conflict in Ukraine is set to dominate international news again next week. The destruction of the dam prompted fresh concerns around the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi plans to visit in the coming days.
Outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is visiting Washington on Monday and Tuesday (June 12-13) for talks with US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Beyond discussions over the allied response to the dam’s destruction, Stoltenberg is likely to use his meetings in DC to compare notes on negotiations towards securing ratification of Sweden’s bid to become a fully-fledged member of NATO. Sweden’s accession is supposed to happen in time for next month’s NATO summit, and efforts have intensified following the recent re-election of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. Stoltenberg then heads back to Brussels, where NATO and Swedish defence ministers are gathering on Thursday and Friday (June 15-16). Members of the US-led Ukraine Defence Contact Group are due to meet on the Thursday morning ahead of the formal NATO meetings.
Meanwhile, the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which Russian President Putin is scheduled to address, runs from Wednesday to Saturday (June 14-17), though reporting on what Putin has to say about prospects for the Russian economy may be limited after the forum banned journalists from ‘unfriendly countries’ from attending. Finally, a delegation of African leaders is slated to visit Kyiv on Friday (June 16) and then St. Petersburg on Saturday (June 17) for talks aimed at brokering a peace.