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Fourth-ever Council of Europe summit, RAJARs

A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.

Leading the week 

Liz Truss returns to her roots as a foreign policy hawk next week with further interventions on China planned during visits to Copenhagen and Taiwan. In a comeback speech in Washington last month, Truss said the West needed to “get real” and rediscover its “economic mojo” to challenge Beijing’s growing influence, and the former prime minster can be expected to continue in a similar vein at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Monday (15 May) in a discussion themed “Countering China’s Coercion”. 

Truss will then ramp up the rhetorical stakes during a five-day visit to Taiwan, delivering a speech to a think tank in Taipei on Wednesday (17 May) on the subject of freedom and democracy on the island.

Truss’s latest remarks come as the UK attempts once again to redefine its relationship with China and as the possibility of conflict in the South China Sea was discussed at this week’s ASEAN meetings. The issue remains high on the Westminster agenda following a phone call between China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and UK national security adviser Tim Barrow on Wednesday, so Truss’s contributions next week may not be well received on either the domestic or international fronts. 

Local elections take place in 11 councils across Northern Ireland on Thursday (18 May) as the Windsor Framework continues to loom large over the country’s fractious political climate. With no agreement on a Stormont Executive in sight, the parties are heading into the polls looking to vindicate their respective positions on the agreement reached between Downing Street and the EU back in February.

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neil is hoping voters will “re-endorse” last year’s Assembly election and show support for a working, united executive, while DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson recently attacked the notion that the party would withdraw its opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol and Windsor Framework after the locals, signalling that a poor result for the party wouldn’t necessarily change their position at the Assembly. With the deadline for executive formation extended until January 2024, next week’s results are likely to be raised repeatedly in the next seven months in intra-party negotiations over the future of the country. 

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Looking abroad 

For only the fourth time in its 74-year history, the Council of Europe will gather leaders for a summit in Reykjavík on Tuesday and Wednesday (16-17 May).

The meeting of Europe’s oldest intergovernmental organisation is focused on ensuring “accountability for the crimes committed by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine“, including by setting set up a register for those who have suffered damages and harm due to the invasion.

The summit comes at an awkward moment for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has not announced whether he plans to attend but would be expected to under normal circumstances. His flagship Illegal Migration Bill has been criticised by the Council of Europe’s top human rights official, while further amendments introduced last month would give ministers powers to ignore decisions from the European Court on Human Rights related to removals. 

Ukraine is also top of the agenda as G7 leaders converge on the Japanese city of Hiroshima for their three-day annual summit from Friday to Sunday (19-21 May).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is slated to address the gathering via video, while Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has invited several non-G7 leaders to attend in person, including India’s Narendra Modi, South Korea’s Yoon Suk-yeol, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Australia’s Anthony Albanese. Beyond the conflict in Ukraine, participants are set to discuss a host of other issues of global concern, including China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, non-proliferation, global economic issues and food security.  

Meanwhile, at the annual Arab League Summit taking place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday (19 May), all eyes will be on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who is expected to attend following a decision earlier this month to end Syria’s 12-year suspension from the bloc over its brutal crackdown on protests.

Assad’s attendance at the pan-Arab summit, while a symbolically important recognition of his regime’s grip on power, is unlikely to result in any immediate tangible changes. Several Arab countries have already made moves towards reestablishing diplomatic ties with Damascus, while Syria is unlikely to benefit financially until it resolves outstanding demands to find a political settlement to the civil war, make progress in combating drug trafficking, and facilitate the return of refugees. 

Also look out for 

May 15 

  • House of Lords considers EU law revocation bill 
  • Suella Braverman addresses National Conservatism conference 
  • British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly meets 
  • GCE, GCSE & SATS exams begin 
  • Lambeth Council committee decision on Brixton Academy licence 
  • Chinese envoy begins five-nation visit on Ukraine talks 
  • European Commission publishes Spring Economic Forecast 

May 16 

  • Rishi Sunak hosts Food Security Summit 
  • James Cleverly at Lords committee on the Windsor Framework 
  • Michael Gove addresses National Conservatism conference 
  • High Court hearing in Prince Harry’s claim against the Home Office over police protection 
  • Greggs appeals night-time ban on Leicester Square store 
  • The Prince’s Trust Awards 

May 17 

  • Keir Starmer and Andrew Bailey address BCC Annual Conference 
  • Lord Frost addresses National Conservatism conference 
  • Second leg of Manchester City’s Champions League semi-final v Real Madrid 
  • Beyoncé performs in Cardiff 

May 18 

  • Andrew Bailey at committee session on quantitative tightening 
  • Sentencing for teens convicted of murdering Khayri McClean 
  • Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement due to expire  
  • Xi Jinping chairs meeting with Central Asian leaders 
  • Ivor Novello Awards 

May 19 

  • Philip Schofield’s brother sentenced for abusing teenage boy 
  • Controversial Jerusalem Day parade 
  • Jerome Powell and Ben Bernanke at discussion on monetary policy 
  • Brittney Griner may play first WNBA game since release 
  • European Rugby Challenge Cup Final 

May 20 

  • Salman Rushdie, Hillary Clinton and Jamie Lee Curtis speak at FT Weekend Festival 
  • Rahul Gandhi appeals defamation conviction 
  • Beyoncé performs in Edinburgh 
  • European Rugby Champions Cup final 
  • Preakness Stakes is held following Kentucky Derby horse deaths 

May 21 

  • Parliamentary elections in Greece 
  • New Network Rail timetables take effect  
  • 76th World Health Assembly re-elects Director-General 
  • Formula One: Emilia Romagna Grand Prix 

Statistics reports and results 

May 15 

  • ONS release on qualification levels by country of birth 
  • Rightmove House Price Index 

May 16 

  • UK unemployment figures 
  • Quarterly productivity estimate 
  • Flash estimate EU and euro area GDP 
  • IMF Article IV consultation on the German economy 
  • Monthly Chinese economic data 
  • Amnesty Report on use of the death penalty around the world 
  • Results from: Vodafone, Greggs, Britvic, Imperial Tobacco Group 

May 17 

  • UK Health Accounts: 2021 and 2022 
  • Japan Q1 GDP 
  • EU inflation statistics 
  • Results from: Tencent Holdings, Commerzbank, Siemens, British Land 

May 18 

  • Quarterly knife crime statistics 
  • Annual statistics on accommodation in secure children’s homes 
  • Annual figures on pupil absences in England 
  • Monthly mortgage and landlord possession stats 
  • RAJAR listening figures 
  • Results from: Royal Mail Group, Easyjet, National Grid, BT Group 

May 19 

  • GfK consumer confidence index 

Anniversaries and awareness days  

May 15 

  • One month ago: fighting broke out in Sudan 
  • Mental Health Awareness Week (to May 21) 
  • Dementia Action Week (to May 21) 
  • National Salt Awareness Week (to May 21) 
  • National Women’s Health Week (to May 21) 
  • National Vegetarian Week (to May 21) 
  • Wales Tourism Week (to May 19) 
  • Foster Care Fortnight (to May 28)  
  • International Day of Families 

May 16 

  • 60 years ago: Last national serviceman demobbed 
  • 80 years ago: “Dambuster Raid” 

May 17 

  • International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 
  • One year ago: US Covid death toll reached 1 million 
  • World Telecommunication Day 
  • World Hypertension Day 

May 18 

  • International Museum Day 
  • HIV Vaccine Awareness Day 

May 19 

  • 10 years ago: Sir Alex Ferguson managed his last game 
  • Endangered Species Day 

May 20 

  • World Whisky Day  
  • World Bee Day 
  • National Doughnut Week (to May 28) 

May 21 

  • World Day for Cultural Diversity 

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

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