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
Britain will have a third Prime Minister this year following the implosion of the Liz Truss premiership yesterday, with another Conservative Party leadership election due to take place over the next week. In a brief resignation statement, Truss accepted that she was no longer able to deliver the mandate upon which she was elected, bringing an end to a chaotic few weeks in which the UK’s political credibility took a significant hit around the world and leaving Truss with the record as the shortest-serving Prime Minister in British history.
Nominations close at 2pm on Monday (October 24) and we could have a new prime minister as early as that evening, with a 100-supporter threshold for nominations designed to whittle down candidates quickly. There will be a maximum of three; if only one person makes it through, they will immediately take over the leadership. If there are two or three candidates, MPs will hold a hustings and ballot Monday afternoon, eliminating the person with the fewest votes, and if two contenders are still left, MPs will hold another indicative vote aimed at showing grassroots members who enjoys the support of the parliamentary party (and encouraging the one who doesn’t to drop out). If it does go to a members’ vote, the new leader will be revealed by Friday (October 28). Keep an eye out for PMQs on Wednesday (October 26), which will either be the first outing for the new prime minister or Liz Truss’s fourth and last appearance at the despatch box.
The first candidate to go public was the surprise contender from the last contest, Penny Mordaunt, who will feel confident of being among the frontrunners again despite having served in the Truss Cabinet. Defeated finalist Rishi Sunak will also be in the mix this time around, while 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady’s confirmation that party members could be involved in the process immediately sparked excited speculation about a potential return for grassroots favourite Boris Johnson. The former prime minister, who was reportedly on holiday in the Caribbean as the drama unfolded, still enjoys the support of a significant chunk of the Parliamentary party and would relish a second crack of the whip.
The political waters are no less choppy across the Irish Sea, where Northern Ireland’s political parties have until Friday (October 28) to form a new power-sharing executive or face the prospect of a second election in seven months. Stormont has remained in limbo since May’s vote, which saw Sinn Fein become the country’s largest party for the first time and secure the office of First Minister. The Democratic Unionists, though, have thus far refused to join a governing executive in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol measures, rendering any prospect of a breakthrough between now and Friday highly unlikely. Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, who may or may not be in post by this time next week, has confirmed that preparations have already begun for a return to the polls on December 15. Irish Taoiseach Michael Martin has taken a different approach, urging Sinn Fein and the DUP to form a government while protocol negotiations continue. Though all roads do seemingly point to a second Northern Ireland election before Christmas, we’re long past the point of taking anything for granted when it comes to UK politics.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosts an international conference in Berlin on Tuesday (October 25) to discuss reconstruction in Ukraine, featuring keynote speeches from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The conference is aimed at sharing expertise at the senior officials’ level, so the outcome will be more along the lines of recommendations rather than decisions, but will give some indication as to the direction and international involvement expected in the country’s recovery from the conflict. While Scholz told the Bundestag yesterday that Ukraine’s financial needs are covered through to the end of the year, he also warned much more would be needed, and the conference may provide a vision for the more systemic support Berlin has already advocated for.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is scheduled to address the Valdai Discussion Club’s annual meeting in Moscow on Thursday (October 27). Putin’s past Valdai speeches have usually been noteworthy, and even in peacetime he’s used them to take a tough line on Russian foreign policy. Last year he railed against ‘cancel culture’ and ‘monstrous’ transgender rights in the West, but next week’s address is more likely to mirror his infamous 2014 outing, when he spent 40 minutes lambasting the United States for imposing a ‘unilateral diktat’ on the rest of the world.
Brazilians go back to the polls on Sunday (October 30) for a run-off vote to choose between incumbent far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and leftist former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula had more support than Bolsonaro in the first round, but the margin was closer than most pundits had predicted, and Bolsonaro has narrowed the lead even further in the interim weeks to just a four-percentage point gap. A final televised debate takes place on Friday (October 28), where we can expect yet more focus on Bolsonaro’s dire pandemic record and corruption scandals under Lula’s previous government.