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 economic story will continue to dominate next week as markets and MPs react to recent developments after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked and Prime Minister Liz Truss announced a U-turn on the corporation tax freeze that had been a flagship policy only three weeks ago. The markets only had a couple of hours today to respond to the announcement as well as the end of the Bank of England’s gilt-buying programme before they closed at 4:30pm, so keep an eye on reopening at 8am on Monday (October 17) for more clarity – there was evidence this morning that markets had already priced in a U-turn, so there’s likely to be more turmoil if Truss hasn’t done enough to encourage stabilisation.
A separate U-turn story will get fresh legs on Wednesday (October 19) with September’s inflation figures, which are used as a benchmark for benefits, pensions and business rate uprating. MPs already unhappy with the government over its fiscal policy are unlikely to stay quiet as they pile on pressure to confirm that benefits will rise in line with inflation rather than earnings, while business groups have urged the government to cancel the planned business rate rise next year.
Trade unionists gather in Brighton from Tuesday (October 18) for the TUC Congress, with a sharp focus on workers’ struggles for better pay and conditions as pay offers fail to keep up with inflation. Outgoing General Secretary Frances O’Grady delivers her valedictory speech on the opening day and is also due to issue a statement on the cost of living, while a motion on joint union action on Wednesday (October 19) may see the prospect of a general strike raised again as strike action is ramped up over the autumn months.
A keynote speech by Keir Starmer on Thursday (October 20) is also set to be closely watched not only for the Labour leader’s words on how the party would tackle the UK’s economic woes, but also for any references to the internal disputes over MPs appearing on picket lines. Sam Tarry, who was sacked from the Shadow Cabinet for ignoring the party line, was deselected as a candidate in Ilford South this week, though his case will remain contentious with more MPs potentially facing deselection through the trigger ballot process. With the party officially on an election footing, the Labour leader will be expected to demonstrate in his TUC speech how he intends to unite the unions and his MPs for what’s sure to be a bruising 2024 campaign.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse publishes its long-awaited final report on Thursday (October 20), after more than eight years of work. The investigation was established by then-Home Secretary Theresa May in July 2014 following the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal and has been chaired by Professor Alexis Jay since August 2016. The report is sure to make for uncomfortable reading for police and local authorities, who have already been accused of ‘extensive failures’ in a preliminary report released earlier this year. The inquiry has also lambasted senior officials for denying the scale of child abuse allegations, concluding that child grooming gangs have been in operation in all regions of England and Wales.
EU leaders gather in Brussels on Thursday and Friday (October 20-21), with Ukraine, energy and economic issues top of the agenda. The European Commission is expected to present yet more proposals on a bloc-wide agreement to lower skyrocketing energy prices ahead of the summit, after an informal gathering in Prague last week failed to yield a consensus. Leaders are looking to find a common approach to the problem, with most discussions focused on a potential cap on gas prices. Germany has raised hackles across the EU by opposing a cap while also borrowing €200 billion to fund a domestic support package, which critics say threatens the single market’s unified approach by taking measures poorer countries can’t follow.
A new proposal backed by Germany and the Netherlands, which doesn’t include a price cap but does feature a new benchmark price for liquefied natural gas and plans for joint gas buying, made its way to energy ministers this week. Members are considerably more united on Ukraine, having just agreed on a military training assistance mission on Wednesday, and are likely to discuss further support following calls from President Volodymyr Zelensky for more air defence systems and rebuilding funds ahead of an October 25 reconstruction conference in Berlin.