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
All eyes will be on the ICC stage in Birmingham this week as the Conservative Party conference gets underway just as the government tries to get to grips with the financial turmoil sparked by last week’s ‘mini-budget’. First up is Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, who will need to convince party colleagues on Monday (October 3) that he’s the right man to remain in charge of the country’s finances after a difficult start to his life at the very top of government. Few acts by first-time chancellors have caused such dramatic reactions as Kwarteng’s mini-budget, which led to critical responses from opposition leaders, Tory backbenchers and the IMF (though not, unsurprisingly, from the IEA think tank, with whom Kwarteng has a fringe discussion on October 4). The last week has seen the pound tumbling dramatically and the Bank of England being forced to intervene in an attempt to calm markets that had been spooked by Kwarteng’s fiscal statement. The chancellor has remained resolute in response to demands for a reversal of his policies, though attempting to give himself some breathing room by announcing plans for a second fiscal event in November does not appear to have had the desired effect.
Liz Truss then steps up to deliver her first conference speech as prime minister on Wednesday (October 5) in what should be a welcome solo outing after a series of car crash interviews with local radio yesterday. With Truss already facing calls to sack her chancellor and restive Tory MPs apparently on manoeuvres, it’s set to be one of the most closely watched conference speeches in recent memory. The prime minister will have her first uninterrupted opportunity to make the case to the party and the nation that the market activity is merely a blip caused by global factors, and is likely to push hard on the energy price freeze, energy support payments and November tax cuts as proof that the government is about putting more money in people’s pockets to spur growth.
Truss won’t have long to ponder the domestic response to her speech, though, as she heads off to Prague on Thursday (October 6) for the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community. The EPC is a brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, designed to bring the EU27 closer with Eastern European and Balkan states, as well as non-EU neighbours like the UK, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, to cooperate more closely and counter Russian and Chinese influence in the region. Truss was previously reported to be sceptical of the project, but has, according to Politico, now offered to host the next summit. Discussions this time around focus on energy security and the war in Ukraine, areas Truss is already keen to highlight her record on for a domestic audience, and the hope is that any interaction with European countries that doesn’t centre on the Northern Ireland Protocol can help repair that strained relationship.
The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is announced on Friday (October 7) to round off ‘Nobel Week’, which sees daily announcements of the big prizes in science, economics and literature. The deliberative process is extremely secretive, though we do know that this year there are 343 candidates, of which 251 are individuals and 92 are organisations. Nominations closed at the end of January, making Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky an unlikely – though not impossible –candidate given Russia’s invasion only began on February 24. Other high-profile possibilities include Belarusian opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya or the jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. However, historically the Nobel Committee has not shied away from choosing less well-known figures or organizations. Henrik Urdal, the head of the Peace Research Institute Oslo who puts together an annual list of potential winners, has this year included Indian activist Harsh Mander, Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, and Serbian human rights activist Nataša Kandić in his list.