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
The whirlwind tour of Scottish towns and cities continues for the SNP leadership candidates as the contest enters its second week and Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan try to make their mark at a series of hustings over the coming week. The third session of the contest takes place in Inverness on Saturday (March 4), before an online session is held on Sunday (March 5), followed by in-person events in Dumfries on Monday (March 6), Johnstone on Wednesday (March 8), Glasgow on Saturday (March 11) and Edinburgh on Sunday (March 12). With party in-fighting over trans issues and gay marriage escalating and the spectre of Sturgeon’s long tenure looming large over the contest, the SNP initially attempted to restrict media access to hustings events in an attempt to create ‘safe spaces’ for debate before a backlash forced the party to permit limited access for reporters and live-stream the events across its social media channels.
Nonetheless, much of the Scottish electorate is likely to only get a first good chance to assess their next potential First Minister on Tuesday (March 6) when the three candidates appear together before a live TV audience for an STV head-to-head debate special. With continuity candidate Humza Yousaf and the controversial Kate Forbes apparently in a two-horse race for the top spot, outsider Ash Regan has resorted to making increasingly radical proposals for a prospective independent future, most recently stating Scotland would move to its own currency ‘within months’ of achieving independence – a timeline Yousaf criticised as lacking ‘credibility’. Issues surrounding the feasibility of independence are likely to move increasingly to the forefront of the contest as the three candidates prepare the first UK-wide televised debate hosted by Channel 4 in Glasgow on Thursday (March 9).
Rishi Sunak travels to France on Friday (March 10) for a summit with President Emmanuel Macron billed as an opportunity to reset a relationship that has become increasingly frosty in recent years. The post-Brexit dynamic between the two nations has been dominated by rows over fishing rights and migrant crossings, with recent Conservative Party leadership contests throwing up the odd minor diplomatic incident for good measure. The Prime Minister’s first meetings with Macron at international summits in November last year immediately set the bar for Anglo-French relations higher than during the premiership of his predecessor Liz Truss, though there’s been no major test to the pair’s fledgling bromance in the intervening months. The announcement on Monday of the Windsor Framework agreement between the UK and EU on post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland has been welcomed by Macron, though the publication of Sunak’s hotly-anticipated small boats legislation, potentially in the days leading up to the summit, could upset the balance again. Speaking of Windsor, Friday’s meeting comes ahead of an expected state visit by King Charles towards the end of the month, another indication of the UK’s desire to re-establish an entente cordiale with a key ally.
Notorious prisoner Charles Bronson appears at a public parole hearing on Monday (March 6) in his latest bid to secure release. Bronson, now 70, was the first prisoner to request to have his parole hearing held in public after a law change in June last year. He was first incarcerated in 1974 following an armed robbery and has since amassed 17 convictions, receiving a life sentence in 1999 for kidnapping a prison teacher and holding him at spearpoint. In 1994 he took a prison librarian hostage and demanded a helicopter, a cup of tea and an inflatable doll as ransom. His last attempt at freedom saw his appeal for parole rejected in 2017 when he was a prisoner at HMP Wakefield.
With July’s NATO Summit in Lithuania coming into focus, Sweden, Finland and Turkey will hold their latest round of negotiations on the Nordic countries’ bids to become fully-fledged NATO members on Thursday (March 9). The talks come amid continued chatter that Turkey could sign off on Finland’s membership while leaving Sweden’s bid pending amid ongoing tensions between Ankara and Stockholm, exacerbated by anti-Turkish protests in Stockholm earlier this year. As it happens, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg begins a two-day visit to Sweden on Tuesday (March 7) with a meeting and joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson where the subject is likely to feature prominently. Finnish lawmakers, meanwhile, passed legislation this week paving the way for them to join the alliance, prompting further speculation that previous vows of a joint accession could be abandoned. Meanwhile Turkey’s upcoming presidential elections, still planned for May 14 despite the devastating earthquakes viewed as damaging President Erdogan prospects, have added an extra incentive for Erdogan drag out the dispute and portray himself as bulwark protecting Turkish interests in the face of external pressure.
The biggest names in the film industry gather in Hollywood for one of the most important nights on the entertainment industry calendar as Jimmy Kimmel hosts this year’s Oscars on Sunday (March 12). The hotly-tipped Everything Everywhere All at Once swept up at the SAG Awards, which shares voters with the Academy Awards, with Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis all winning in their respective categories and upsetting favourites such as Cate Blanchet for Best Actress in Tár. Austin Butler (for Elvis) and Brandon Fraser (for The Whale) are favourites to claim the Best Actor award, but the category also features Colin Farrell for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin; the Irish film was overlooked at the SAGs but could still enjoy a successful Oscars with nominations in nine different categories. A rumoured performance by Rihanna could up the glam factor on the night significantly, while organisers will hope to avoid any semblance of controversy after last year’s notorious slap incident.