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
Local elections in England, Scotland and Wales, where voters decide on the bread-and-butter politics of local planning and rubbish collections, take place on Thursday (May 5) as the Conservative Party battles to keep voters’ minds focused on its post-Brexit programme of levelling up amid the fallout of the Partygate scandal and cost of living crisis. The party’s popularity is likely to be particularly tested in the Red Wall seats which proved so crucial to Boris Johnson’s thumping 2019 majority, while Labour will hope the party’s huge poll lead in London translates nationally into the party’s best local election performance under Keir Starmer’s leadership.
However, amid suggestions that Labour may have reached the limit of the party’s potential in town hall elections, a better-than-expected performance for the Conservative Party this week could be just the tonic for the Prime Minister as MPs dither over whether to send in those letters to Bernard Jenkin. With the conclusion of the Met Police inquiry and publication of Sue Gray’s report potentially still weeks away, there is a strong chance that Johnson may return to Parliament for the Queen’s Speech in the mood to really take the fight to his opponents both internal and external.
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, holds Assembly elections which could have enormous long-term implications for the future of the Stormont government. The country’s ruling Executive collapsed back in February when First Minister Paul Givan resigned in protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol arrangements. Sinn Féin are currently on course to be the largest party in the Assembly for the first time – a scenario which would make leader Michelle O’Neill the country’s new first minister. The DUP has repeatedly refused to confirm whether it will nominate one of its members to fill the role of O’Neill’s deputy, creating the very real prospect that the Executive will once again collapse just hours after the results come in.
The conflict in Ukraine, with its sprawling ramifications, is set to dominate international news again this week. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is due to discuss Russia’s invasion at a New York Times discussion on Monday (May 2), and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was recently in Kyiv, testifies before the Senate on Tuesday. There’s a flurry of diplomatic activity on the other side of the Atlantic, too, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday, followed by talks with Nordic leaders in Copenhagen and a summit with freshly re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is also visiting this week, with stops in Rome and London, where he meets with Boris Johnson. Wednesday sees Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky address Danish WWII anniversary events, while Poland and Sweden co-host an international donors’ conference in Warsaw on Thursday. The conference coincides with a virtual OPEC+ meeting, where the energy implications of the conflict will inform output decisions.
Voters in Ohio head to the polls on Tuesday (May 3) for one of the US midterms’ most closely watched primaries, which marks the first major test of Donald Trump’s endorsement power and the MAGA wing’s prospects in future races. Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance leads the Republican race for Rob Portman’s Senate seat, having received a last-minute surge in support following Trump’s endorsement. But his decision to back his former critic has divided Trump supporters, providing a potential opening for former frontrunner Josh Mandel to scoop up votes from those who feel betrayed by the move.