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
After the two largest parties spent the last couple of weeks in election campaign prep mode, it’s back to the day-to-day business of Westminster politics on Monday (October 16) as Parliament returns from conference recess. First up in the House of Commons is Michael Gove’s levelling up department, though the currently scheduled business is likely to be overshadowed by a statement from the government on the situation in Israel/Gaza (more on that below) and a possible update from Rishi Sunak on his attendance at last week’s European Political Community meeting. The Israel conflict is sure to come up at Cabinet on Tuesday (October 17), before Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer go head-to-head on Wednesday (October 18) in a session of PMQs that is likely to feature both parties’ freshest post-conference attack lines and inevitable digs at Starmer for serving in the Sshadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
With conference messaging to maintain and an escalating conflict to respond to, the prime minister could probably do without the distraction of another potential by-election upset next week; sadly for Sunak (but happily, one imagines, for Nadine Dorries), there are two very losable ballots coming up on Thursday (October 19). The outcome is anyone’s guess in Dorries’ former constituency of Mid-Bedfordshire, where the former culture secretary’s absenteeism could affect Conservative voter turnout, while the Liberal Democrats will be hoping to capitalise on a run of eye-catching by-election victories and Labour will hope to see a repeat of its vote share turnaround in Selby. In Tamworth, meanwhile, Labour are favourites to overturn a near-20,000 majority in a ballot triggered by the resignation of former government whip Chris Pincher after a Parliamentary standards investigation. Results for both votes are expected to be announced in the early hours of Friday (October 20).
Asylum seekers are set to return to the Bibby Stockholm on Thursday (October 19). It will be déjà vu for the group of 39 after they were ordered onto the boat in Portland, Dorset, earlier in the year, only to be evacuated after five days due to an outbreak of legionella. After being slammed by a number of charities who have described the vessel as not fit for purpose, the Home Office believes it is habitable again and free of contagion. Home Secretary Suella Braverman will be hoping the vessel can accommodate more people, with the government’s Rwanda deportation strategy yet to get off the ground. The plan to send undocumented asylum seekers to the African country was previously defeated in the courts, and anyone hoping for a speedy resolution after this week’s Supreme Court hearing will have been disappointed to hear that judges do not expect to issue a decision until December at the earliest.
The situation in Israel following the unprecedented Hamas attack last weekend will dominate news next week amid the increasing likelihood of a ground operation in Gaza following days of intense air strikes in the densely populated Palestinian enclave and fears of a wider regional conflict. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who landed in Israel yesterday and is due in Jordan today, widened his trip to include stops in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt this weekend. Blinken was joined in Israel today by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, and the German, Italian and Canadian foreign ministers, as the UN announced that Israel has given 1.1 million Gazans 24 hours to evacuate south of the Wadi Gaza river. World leaders are hoping that the diplomatic blitz can help secure the release of Israeli hostages and prevent the conflict from escalating further, and any developments after today’s Hamas ‘Day of Rage’ or this weekend’s talks will help set the course for events next week.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will host representatives from over 130 nations for a two-day summit in Beijing starting on Tuesday (October 17). The Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is China’s biggest diplomatic event this year, and comes as the Belt and Road Initiative (formerly known as One Belt, One Road) marks its 10th anniversary. The project’s massive infrastructure investments, mostly in Asia and Africa, are viewed as part of China’s efforts to challenge America’s global dominance. Although a final list of which countries plan to send leaders has yet to be announced, Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly accepted his invitation, and a bilateral meeting with Xi is likely.
Argentina holds presidential and legislative elections on Sunday (October 22) with all eyes on right-wing libertarian candidate Javier Milei, who has described himself as an ‘anarcho-capitalist’ and surprised many by winning the most votes in the open primary in August. The prospect of a Milei presidency has rattled markets, and in recent weeks the value of the country’s currency has fallen sharply as Milei continues to tout his plan to dollarise the economy as a solution the country’s chronic inflation. Earlier this week, Argentina’s current president, Alberto Fernández, filed a judicial complaint against Milei after he described the peso as ‘worth less than excrement’, accusing Milei of ‘public intimidation’. As it stands, the election looks likely to head to a November 19 runoff, with current Economy Minister Sergio Massa and former Security Minister Patricia Bullrich leading among rival candidates.