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 Conservative Party’s pledge to stop small boat crossings and cut immigration is set to take a battering with the release of the UK’s annual net migration figures on Thursday (May 25). Analysts predict the net migration number has already passed 700,000, smashing a 2017 manifesto promise to bring that number under 100,000. Despite the promise of ‘taking back control of our borders’ after the Brexit vote, next week’s figure is likely to be double the record numbers recorded before Britain left the EU.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has clashed with the right of the Conservative Party by distancing himself from previous migration targets, suggesting 500,000 would be more realistic, while Home Secretary Suella Braverman suggested the UK should train up its own HGV drivers, butchers, and fruit pickers to reduce dependency on migrants. Thursday’s figures will set up some uncomfortable cabinet splits as Sunak and Braverman attempt to appease immigration critics while other senior ministers insist foreign workers and students are needed to stimulate the economy and tackle labour shortages.
After months of price rises and soaring bills, there should finally be some good news for consumers next week with CPI statistics on Wednesday (May 24) expected to show a sharp drop in inflation led by falling energy prices, even as Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey warns the UK could be facing a wage-price spiral. The figures come just before Ofgem announces its latest change to the to the default energy tariff cap on Friday (May 26), expected to herald the first reduction in energy bills since the start of the conflict in Ukraine.
The cap currently stands at £3,280 for a typical household – though tempered for consumers by the government’s £2,500 Energy Price Guarantee – and analysts are predicting that the energy regulator could announce a reduction to around £2,100 next week. Before the decision is announced, Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley may give an indication of the regulator’s thinking and industry conditions more broadly when he appears before the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday in a session on the collapse of Bulb Energy.
The parents of 10-month-old Finley Boden will be sentenced on Friday (May 26) after being found guilty of his murder last month. Finley’s lifeless body was found by paramedics after his parents, Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden, called them in the early hours of Christmas Day 2020. A post–mortem found that Finley had suffered 71 bruises and 54 fractures on his body as well as sepsis and pneumonia, and would have been in ‘severe and protracted pain’ before his death.
The case has prompted intense scrutiny of Derbyshire social services, who had taken Finley into care shortly after he was born but handed him back to his parents just 39 days before his death. Council workers had requested a period of six months to transition Finley back to living at home, but a court order returned him to his parents’ care in eight weeks. A child safeguarding practice review into the social services dealing with Finley’s case will be published later this year, looking at social services’ involvement with Finley and his parents before and after he was born.
Turkey’s presidential election goes to a runoff vote on Sunday (May 28) after Recep Tayyip Erdogan fell just short of a majority last week with 49.5% of the first-round vote. Despite a fall in popularity over the government’s handling of the economy and the response to February’s devastating earthquakes, Erdogan defied the polls to come out ahead of opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who represents a six-party alliance looking to end Erdogan’s rule after over two decades in power.
Kilicdaroglu has spent this week courting the 5.2% of votes won by nationalist candidate and kingmaker Sinan Ogan, swapping his reformist campaign promises of ‘peace and joy’ for a pledge to ‘send all refugees home’ in an effort to appeal to conservative voters. This strategy may cost him votes on the left, particularly with the country’s Kurdish minority, meaning he still faces an uphill battle to topple Erdogan and prevent him from further consolidating power.
The political crisis in Pakistan will remain in the headlines next week as supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan continue to clash with security forces and Khan’s convoluted legal troubles drag on. Khan was released from custody last week after the Supreme Court ruled his May 9 arrest illegal and remains at his home in Lahore, which is currently surrounded by police reportedly preparing to search it for dozens of ‘terrorists’ the government claimed Khan was harbouring following attacks on military compounds in the wake of his arrest. The Lahore High Court is due to hear a petition on Friday (May 26) to dismiss some 121 cases that have been filed against Khan, including charges of corruption, inciting violence and sedition, while the Islamabad High Court is scheduled to reconsider his bail arrangements the following week.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Supreme Court holds a hearing on Tuesday (May 23) to consider an ongoing dispute over the date for provincial elections in Khan’s home state of Punjab, where the PTI dissolved the assembly in January in an attempt to force early national polls. In a ruling last month, the Supreme Court agreed with the PTI that the vote should take place within 90 days of dissolution and ordered them for May 14, but the Electoral Commission claimed holding elections would be impossible and pushed for the provincial vote to be held alongside the general election in October. The PTI has continued to call for protests in support of fresh elections.