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 State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday (November 7) will be more noteworthy than many in recent years for a variety of reasons: it’s the first for King Charles since he ascended the throne in 2022 and also heralds the start of the final session of the current Parliament before a general election which is widely expected to take place before the end of 2024. The last session ended with a late flurry of bills being added to the statute book, notably new laws on planning and internet safety, so what can we expect when King Charles sits down to set out what could be this government’s final legislative programme?
The long-delayed Renters (Reform) Bill is due to be carried over and ministers are expected to continue the housing theme by introducing a bill to end leasehold homes. Elsewhere, there’s expected to be legislation to expand on the prime minister’s disavowal of pro-green policies, while further fuel for the Tory grassroots in the form of tougher sentencing laws and restrictions on ULEZ-esque schemes are tipped to be included. We may also get bills to reflect the government’s plans to tackle the cost of living and the domestic impact of ongoing global crises, though campaigners hoping to see the delivery of a 2018 Tory promise to legislate to end conversion therapy look set to be disappointed. Debate on the speech begins on Wednesday (November 8), with a final vote due on November 15.
Following eyebrow-raising testimony from former officials this week, a new group of big-name witnesses are up before the Covid-19 inquiry next week to provide further revelations on the inner-workings of the pandemic-era government. On Monday (November 6), former Treasury economic adviser Clare Lombardelli appears for questioning on how economic policy-making worked during Covid, followed on Tuesday (November 7) by Boris Johnson loyalist and former No.10 Chief of Staff Lord Edward Udny-Lister, who led crunch talks with regional leaders when parts of England were put under more severe lockdown rules in October 2020.
Former Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Mark Sedwill will have the chance to give his side of the story on Wednesday (November 8) after Dominic Cummings described the Cabinet Office operation Sedwill led as a ‘dumpster fire’ in his appearance earlier this week. Last up is former Home Secretary Priti Patel, who appears on Thursday (November 9) to face questions about decision-making on policing and border closure policies during the pandemic.
Organisers have called for a million people to take to the streets of the UK on Saturday (November 11) for protests demanding an end to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The timing has sparked fears of a clash with Remembrance Day ceremonies, and Security Minister Tom Tugendhat is among those suggesting the ‘inappropriate’ marches should be blocked, though organisers have vowed to steer clear of the Cenotaph on the day. The Met Police will also be under scrutiny, with pundits and Conservative MPs calling for tougher action to deal with protesters amid criticism that the force isn’t doing enough. Home Secretary Suella Braverman went as far as calling the protests ‘hate marches’, saying a zero-tolerance approach should be taken.
With no indication that Israel plans to halt its operations against Hamas in Gaza any time soon, growing outrage in the Arab world at the rising civilian toll will be front and centre when Arab League leaders gather for an emergency summit in Riyadh on Saturday (November 11). The meeting, held at the request of Palestine and hosts Saudi Arabia, follows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s latest trip to the region, which started in Israel today ahead of a stop in Jordan and then, reportedly, Turkey this Sunday (November 5). The visit would be Blinken’s first travel to Ankara since the crisis broke out amid suggestions the US is recalibrating its position as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to escalate.
The conflict is also sure to come up when G7 foreign ministers gather in Japan on Tuesday and Wednesday (November 7-8), with a unanimous commitment on humanitarian aid possible after Japan and Canada were absent from an early statement in support of Israel signed by the group’s other five members. While more recent talks have shown more unity, Tokyo is taking a more careful line on the war than many of its allies as it maintains closer relationships with Middle Eastern oil exporters, notably including Iran.
After watching his sons and co-defendants Don Jr. and Eric testify this week, former US President Donald Trump is expected to appear on the witness stand in his fraud trial on Monday (November 6) ahead of planned testimony from his daughter Ivanka, who is not named in the case, on Wednesday (November 8). Since the case is civil, unlike the four ongoing criminal prosecutions he is currently fighting, Trump faces no risk of jail time. But with New York Attorney General Letitia James seeking at least $250 million in damages as well as banishing Trump companies from doing business in the Empire State, the stakes in the case, which is expected to conclude in late December, remain high.