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
It’s a quiet week in Westminster as MPs head off for Whitsun recess, but Rishi Sunak will be busy preparing for the European Political Community summit in Moldova on Thursday (June 1) as his government looks to take back control of the narrative on immigration following yesterday’s record-breaking net migration figures. The gathering of 47 leaders from across the continent gives the prime minister another chance to bang the drum for European cooperation on illegal migration after a lukewarm reception in Reykjavik last week, and the EPC is seen as an ideal forum for a post-Brexit Britain to address transit countries like France and Turkey as well as Albania, where an increasing number of asylum seekers are originating.
Ukraine will feature heavily at the summit, given the EPC was set up primarily to promote European unity in response to Russia’s invasion, and security and energy are at the top of the agenda. Moldova’s President Maia Sandu has made it clear that hosting has huge symbolic importance for the country’s pro-European future as it moves away from Moscow’s influence, and Ukraine’s closest neighbours will be hoping the dialogue with European powers translates into further funding for border countries most affected by the war.
The Premier League may have ended but there’s still plenty of action left in the domestic football season, with the conclusion of the EFL playoffs and the FA Cup final teeing up what’s set to be an exciting summer of sport featuring two Ashes series, men’s EURO 2024 qualifiers, a European Games and the Women’s World Cup.
First up is the League One playoff final at Wembley on Monday (May 29) between Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley, before England men’s cricketers prepare for the Ashes with a test match against Ireland at Lord’s from Thursday (June 1). Manchester City then seek the second trophy in a potential treble-winning season in the FA Cup final against city rivals Manchester United on Saturday (June 3), though planned strike action by the RMT union on Friday (June 2) and by ASLEF on Saturday may impact fans making the journey south to London. Finally, this year’s Derby Day at Epsom on Saturday, the first since the death of Queen Elizabeth, is sure to be a poignant occasion as racegoers enjoy one of Her Majesty’s favourite sporting events.
With tentative suggestions that an agreement on raising the US debt limit could be reached as soon as today, the focus next week is likely to shift to Congress as lawmakers work to draft a deal into legislation and then send it to President Joe Biden’s desk by (or shortly after) the Thursday (June 1) nominal deadline. Complicating matters is Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s promise to give members 72 hours to review the bill before voting on it. One scenario could see the House vote on Wednesday (May 31) followed by a final vote in the Senate on Saturday (June 3). Of course, there’s no guarantee that any deal will get the votes needed to pass, and a lot will depend on the CBO’s score of the legislation, which can only be produced once the legislation is written. All of which means that even if a deal is reached before the Memorial Day weekend, developments next week will be critical in determining whether a full-blown crisis can be averted.
While leaders are discussing Ukraine in Chisinau, the war will also shape discussions at two gatherings of foreign ministers next week. NATO ministers meet in Oslo on Wednesday and Thursday (May 31-June 1) for informal talks ahead of July’s leaders’ summit in Lithuania. The big push at the summit will be for clarity on Ukraine’s future membership in the alliance, so ministers will be looking to find some compromises on further cooperation that show support for Kyiv while likely remaining non-committal on a membership roadmap that the bloc’s biggest players worry would escalate conflict with Moscow.
That concern is especially timely as the meeting follows recent news that the US will support training Ukrainian pilots on US-made F-16 fighter jets and the raid earlier this week by pro-Ukrainian Russian dissident fighters across the border in Belgorod, Russia, possibly using US-provided equipment. When foreign ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa gather in Cape Town on Thursday and Friday (June 1-2), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is likely to make the case that the provision of F-16s and the use of US military hardware on Russian soil supports Russia’s case that it is the victim, not aggressor, of a conflict that is rooted in US hegemony. On Friday, the five foreign ministers are joined by 15 other so-called Friends of BRICS ministers from Africa and the ‘global south’, bolstering the case that the bloc could provide a counterpoint to US-dominated bodies.