News diary 6-12 July: Johnny Depp libel trial against Sun begins and Big Issue returns to streets

Foresight News rounds-up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…

Monday

People with vulnerable health conditions in England who were advised to shield by the Government during the pandemic will now be allowed to spend time outdoors with a group of up to six people from different households. The measures, which will be fully “paused” on 1 August, were introduced to protect the 2.2m people deemed most at-risk, including those over the age of 70, those with severe respiratory conditions and cancer patients.

More widespread relaxations are planned in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as all three countries look to accelerate their economic recoveries. Outdoor hospitality areas including beer gardens will re-open across Scotland, while residents in Northern Ireland will be able to get a haircut as salons and other close-contact services open their doors.

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People in Wales will no longer have to observe the “stay local” guidance, and First Minister Mark Drakeford has also confirmed the establishment of “extended households” from Monday, which will permit two households to have greater interaction including meeting indoors, cooking and eating together, and staying overnight.

Big Issue sellers return after sales of the magazine were suspended in March. The company recently announced that vendors for the paper, who are either homeless or face problems as a result of poverty and inequality, received £400,000 through food vouchers, meter top-ups or other emergency aid during the pandemic following an appeal to the public.

Tuesday

Johnny Depp’s libel claim against The Sun comes before the High Court in London for the opening day of a three-week trial. The Pirates of the Caribbean star (pictured) has brought the action in response to an April 2018 article in which he was accused of being violent towards ex-wife Amber Heard during their marriage. A 2 July hearing ruled the trial would go ahead despite an attempt by The Sun’s legal team to have the case thrown out.

From failed marriages to unrecognised marriages, the High Court will also consider a challenge to the status of humanist unions in England and Wales on Tuesday. Six couples lead the litigation and argue that current legislation on humanist marriages is discriminatory.

The OECD publishes its latest Employment Outlook, a flagship report on jobs and employment in member nations and the second major release from the grouping in recent weeks. June’s Economic Outlook singled out the UK as the developed economy likely to be worst affected by the crisis, and the combination of poor jobs numbers and the impact of the withdrawal of government support are likely to result in similarly stark findings in today’s report.

The key themes in 2019 were the effects of automation and globalisation on workers, but with labour markets around the world transformed by coronavirus, the OECD’s reminder of the need for protections for temporary and gig workers seems most pressing.

Wednesday

Rishi Sunak delivers his third major economic event since becoming Chancellor just four months ago, with a second budget of the year potentially still to come. The Chancellor is expected to use his summer statement to set out the details of the government’s latest attempt to jump-start the economy as previewed by Boris Johnson is his new deal speech last week.

The prime minister promised radical reforms to planning laws and pledged £5bn in infrastructure spending, an amount which both the TUC and CBI said falls short of what is required to prevent lasting damage. As the cost of the Government’s interventions continues to rise and the IMF’s chief economist issues a warning about the UK’s recovery, today’s statement will be closely watched not only for the potential economic boost but also the longer-term cost to the taxpayer.

Sir Mark Sedwill gives evidence to the National Security Strategy joint committee as the fallout from his resignation as Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser continues. Sedwill’s decision to step down was reportedly sparked by clashes with the prime minister and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings over the future of the civil service.

Boris Johnson moved swiftly to quell the unrest in Whitehall by appointing lead Brexit negotiator David Frost to the role of NSA – a move which has been given short shrift by his predecessor. Sedwill’s questions are likely to focus almost exclusively on his soon-to-be successor, and Downing Street will be hoping for answers that put accusations of a “political appointment” to bed.

Thursday

Eurozone finance ministers meet virtually to pick a successor to Portugal’s Mário Centeno, who steps down as Eurogroup president at the end of the week. The three candidates to replace Centeno are Spain’s Nadia Calviño, Ireland’s Paschal Donohoe, and Luxembourg’s Pierre Gramegna. The Eurogroup is where some of the most fundamental tensions in the European project are often exposed, with northern and southern European states often at odds over fiscal policy,  a dynamic already guiding the economic response to the coronavirus pandemic.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley testify before the House Armed Services Committee on the military’s response to protests following the death of George Floyd. Representatives are sure to have questions about President Trump’s controversial photoshoot at St John’s Church, which saw peaceful protesters forcibly removed by the military. Esper and Milley both attended the photo op and later said they regretted being there.

Thursday marks six months since the first reported death from coronavirus. On 9 January, a 61-year-old man in Wuhan died from pneumonia caused by a then-unidentified virus that had seen dozens of people in the city fall ill. Over 500,000 people have since died as the virus spread to over 10m people worldwide, causing unprecedented economic shutdowns, restrictions on movement, and long-term border closures.

Friday

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is due to respond to Senate Democrats regarding the continued prevalence of white supremacist groups on the platform, despite the existence of policies intended to ban them. The request for action and accountability comes as other platforms, including Twitter, make renewed attempts to crack down on dangerous rhetoric, including from President Trump himself, in response to the renewed international focus on racism.

Snap early parliamentary elections take place in Singapore, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hoping his government’s stewardship of the coronavirus pandemic will see his People’s Action Party returned to power. This seems the likely outcome, despite initial excitement about his (estranged) brother Lee Hsien Yang’s support for the opposition Progress Singapore Party, led by former PAP lawmaker Tan Cheng Bock. The prime minister’s brother ultimately announced he would not be running for election, saying “Singapore does not need another Lee”.

Saturday

Members of the Church of England’s General Synod hold an informal meeting following the cancellation of the formal event due to have taken place this month. Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell makes his first address as Archbishop of York two days after his appointment, coinciding with the Church’s move to reopen its buildings for funerals and private prayer.

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, which saw over 8,000 Bosniaks killed. Commemorations will be muted as a result of the pandemic, with most events taking place online and a large service planned at St Paul’s Cathedral cancelled. Prince Charles had been due to travel to Srebrenica in March to help mark the anniversary.

Sunday

Incumbent Polish President Andrzej Duda faces an unwelcome second round of voting in his bid for re-election. Though right-wing Duda secured 43 per cent of the first round vote on 28 June, his liberal challenger, Warsaw mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, won 30 per cent, and the runoff between the two is now considered too close to call.

Unsurprisingly, the outcome of the election is being touted as a cultural turning point; as first round exit polls were released, Tzaskowski said the runoff would be a choice “between an open Poland, and a Poland that seeks an enemy and a president who constantly tries to divide.”

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

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