A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.
Leading the week
MPs return to the Commons on Monday (June 6) to a Westminster gripped by the intrigue over a possible leadership challenge to Boris Johnson amid rising Tory party anger over the conclusion of Sue Gray’s partygate investigation. Speculation was rife during the recess week about the prime minister’s future, with many in SW1 playing a game of letter-counting as more Conservative MPs went public with their submissions to 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady.
While the usual loyal Cabinet members came out in support of Johnson on the day of the Gray report’s publication, the number of public demands for his resignation from disgruntled backbenchers and former ministers shows that the triple apology was not enough to draw a line under the matter. With the number of letters reportedly getting closer to the magic figure of 54, this is likely to be one of the most crucial weeks of Johnson’s premiership…though there is speculation that some MPs (or Brady) may wait until after the June 23 by-elections to make their move, leaving Johnson in limbo a bit longer.
Labour will use its Opposition Day debate on Tuesday (June 7) to debate ministerial standards and force a vote on enshrining the commitment that ministers who commit serious breaches of the Ministerial Code must resign, following changes Johnson published last week. The Privileges Committee meets the same day to wrap up its outstanding business so it can begin its inquiry (with a new chairman in place) into whether Johnson misled the House.
With allegations about new parties and interference in Gray’s report continuing to trickle out, Keir Starmer may choose to focus on standards again at PMQs on Wednesday to avoid putting too much of a spotlight on the government’s £21 billion cost of living package (even if Labour is taking credit for it). Chancellor Rishi Sunak is grilled on the nuts and bolts of the package by the Treasury committee on Monday, and the economic impact will continue to crop up throughout the week as the OECD publishes its Economic Outlook on Wednesday and the ONS puts out a release on Friday looking at people’s worries about the rising costs of living.
After securing re-election in April by defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron faces a fresh challenge as France begins its legislative elections on Sunday (June 12), with a second round taking place a week later, on June 19. Macron will be hoping to secure a majority for his LREM movement to push through some of the more controversial aspects of his legislative agenda, such as pension reforms. But he faces challenges from the right and left, notably from the new Nupes leftist alliance headed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who harbours hopes of winning enough seats to force Macron into appointing him prime minister.
To add to the uncertainty, Élisabeth Borne, the current prime minister who was only appointed to the position on May 16, is herself seeking election to parliament for the first time. Macron has confirmed that any ministers, including the prime minister, would be expected to step down if they lose their elections, and Borne’s resignation would require a whole new government to be nominated. But a loss for Borne is viewed as unlikely, despite claims from opponents that she has parachuted into the area; she has the backing of the outgoing LREM representative of the Vire-Evrecy (Calvados) seat, Alain Tourret, and Macron defeated Le Pen in both rounds in the district.
All eyes are on Congress as lawmakers return from recess (June 6) facing mounting pressure to confront the nation’s gun violence epidemic in the wake of horrific mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer postponed legislative action on the issue until this week in the hopes of reaching a bipartisan agreement, but with only a handful of Republicans at the negotiating table, Democrats face an uphill battle to fulfill President Joe Biden’s promise to the families of victims in Uvalde that politicians will ‘do something’ to tackle gun violence.
In the House of Representatives, votes are due on a package of eight gun control bills that are likely to pass but almost certain to stall in the Senate. The House Oversight Committee has also scheduled a hearing on gun violence (June 8) with further committee hearings expected during the week. If progress has not been made by the weekend, pressure is set to reach a climax when the survivors of the 2018 Parkland school shooting hold a March for Our Lives rally in Washington DC (June 11).