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
MPs are in for a long day in the Commons on Monday (September 11), where long-time frontbencher Grant Shapps makes his debut in his new role as defence secretary. Shapps, who is now in his fifth senior ministerial post in the last year, has been a somewhat controversial choice for the role given his lack of experience in military affairs, and attracted criticism last week when he appeared to confuse the Royal Navy with the RAF when referring the Navy’s two aircraft carriers.
Rishi Sunak will then update MPs on his trip to India for the G20 Summit, where the prime minister is due to discuss a potential trade deal in a high-profile bilateral with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and hold a post-Horizon agreement sit down with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Shapps will have another chance to prove his defence credentials as the Commons holds a general debate on the ongoing situation in Ukraine, which is followed by a motion on Wednesday (September 13) to proscribe the private military company The Wagner Group as a terrorist organisation.
There’s another round of economic indicators to consider next week with employment and earnings data published on Tuesday (September 12) ahead of the latest monthly GDP estimate on Wednesday (September 13). As well as providing an update on wage growth and the wider state of the labour market, the figures will have a bearing on the state pension next year as they’re used to determine which of the Triple Lock measures is used to calculate payment increases.
The IFS said this week that spending on pensions could rise by anywhere between £5bn and £45bn per year by 2050, figures that will have Treasury officials sweating at the potential impact on public finances. Elsewhere, the beginning of store closures at homeware retailer Wilko on Tuesday following the announcement of hundreds of job losses this week is another reminder of the continued struggles of bricks and mortar businesses in the post-pandemic economy.
After dominating the news agenda this week, there’s still potential for the ongoing row over reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in schools to continue into next week. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, whose handling of the situation has raised eyebrows, speaks on Tuesday (September 12) at the London launch of an OECD report on the recovery of education systems post-Covid, and could face further questions on the crisis. Keegan could get some relief, however, if the focus shifts to the use of RAAC in hospitals, housing estates and other public buildings – ministers responsible for those areas will already be scrambling for data on how widespread the problem might be.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in Vladivostok on Tuesday (September 12) to give an annual address at the Eastern Economic Forum. While Putin’s speech would normally be closely-watched anyway – last year he railed against ‘brazen, aggressive attempts’ by the West to ‘subordinate’ other countries – this year’s visit includes the possibility of a secretive meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The New York Times reported this week that intelligence officials believe Kim will make a rare trip abroad this month to discuss supplying Russia with weaponry for its war in Ukraine, likely via a train journey to Vladivostok. Since Putin will already be in the far eastern port, all eyes are on the four-day forum, which begins on Sunday (September 10), to see whether the talks materialize.
It’s a big week for tech news, kicking off on Monday (September 11) when Apple faces a three-day hearing at London’s Competition Appeal Tribunal as part of a £1.6 billion class action lawsuit which alleges the company abused its market dominance and misled customers by ‘surreptitiously’ installing a power management tool with iOS updates to hide defective batteries. But the ongoing hearing will be overshadowed on Tuesday (September 12) when Apple holds its annual event in Cupertino to launch the iPhone 15. The ‘Wonderlust’ event is also expected to feature two new Apple Watches and updated AirPods Pro, but the big change will be the end of Apple’s lightning chargers as it moves to the standard USB-C.
Fellow tech giant Google will be having a less positive PR day, as a huge federal antitrust trial gets underway in DC on Tuesday. The case, brought by the Department of Justice and state attorneys general, accuses Google of abusing its monopoly power through agreements with companies like Apple to maintain its position as the default search engine and suppress competition. Alphabet reached a tentative settlement this week in a separate antitrust case in California brought by a coalition of states who accused the company of monopolising the distribution of apps on Android devices.