News diary 12-18 August: UK jobless figures released and England face second ashes test

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

The Westminster recess likely means another week of (relative) calm on the UK political front.

While Boris Johnson has avoided meeting with key EU leaders, he moved to build bridges elsewhere, dispatching his top diplomat to the other side of the Atlantic before hosting the leaders of Estonia and Jordan for talks at Number 10. Though a proposed trip to Ireland for a meeting with Leo Varadkar still seems a way off, the new administration’s international charm offensive is likely to continue over the next seven days.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey appears at the Edinburgh fringe festival on Monday, in a discussion which is likely to be dominated by Labour’s Scottish independence stance.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hinted at a potential Westminster coalition with Labour following the next general election, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell saying the party wouldn’t be opposed to a future independence vote. Labour’s Scottish wing, however, is threatening a wider split within the party by refusing to back “Indy Ref 2”.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) publishes its annual State of the Climate report, looking at notable weather events and global climate data from the past year.

Last year’s report found that 2017 was either the second or third warmest year on record, with a record high global sea level for the sixth consecutive year. The report also found a record low level of Arctic sea ice, saying that the magnitude and sustained rate of sea ice loss was unprecedented in the last 1,450 years.

Monday also marks the second anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which descended into violence between nationalists and counter-protestors. The anniversary comes amid renewed tensions and a focus on white nationalism in the wake of the El Paso shooting.

With the UK having been served numerous warnings regarding the health and outlook of the economy in recent weeks, Tuesday sees the release of the latest tranche of unemployment figures.

Despite the gloomy long-term economic forecast, Britain’s job market has bucked the trend in recent months and enjoyed strong wage growth. May’s joblessness figures showed that unemployment is now at its lowest level since 1974, and another positive set of figures would deliver a much-needed morale boost for the Treasury, particularly after Friday’s GDP figures showed a 0.2 per cent Q2 contraction, sending the pound to a 31-month low.

The Office for National Statistics also releases keenly anticipated Universal Credit statistics. The system has been beset by problems since its introduction, and now faces another potential legal challenge over migration arrangements.

UC became a key issue in the recent Conservative leadership contest, attracting direct criticism from DWP Secretary Amber Rudd.

England and Australia meet at Lords on Wednesday in the second test of the 2019 Ashes. Joe Root’s side suffered a resounding 251 run loss at the Edgbaston opener, and will again be without record wicket taker James Anderson. The silver lining is the possible inclusion of World Cup hero Joffra Archer, whose return to fitness was demonstrated in an impressive outing for Sussex against Gloucestershire.

A Swedish court is scheduled to hand down its verdict in the case of A$AP Rocky, who is accused of assaulting a 19-year-old man in Stockholm.

Prosecution counsel have asked the court to impose a six-month prison sentence on the rapper, who denies the charge and claims to have acted in self- defence. The case has provoked tensions in US-Sweden relations following President Trump’s twitter interventions – a move which was met with a stern rebuke from a former Swedish Prime Minister.

Sixth-form students from around the UK will be opening their A-Level exam results on Thursday, with some finding out whether they have gotten into their chosen universities.

The results come as a long-running controversy about the number of unconditional offers awarded by universities continues, with UCAS figures showing that such offers rose again this year. The Office for Students will soon launch an inquiry into the admissions process, which could result in students applying for university after they have received their results, not before.

The Government publishes figures relating to the number of deaths in England and Wales attributed to drug poisoning.

The release follows statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) earlier this month, which revealed that death by drug overdose is now the biggest killer of men aged 35 to 49, overtaking suicide for the first time. Some experts put the rise down to the increasing purity of drugs, which leads to accidental overdosing.

Across the pond, US President Donald Trump holds a “Keep America Great” rally in New Hampshire. While Trump’s scripted statement on the El Paso and Dayton shootings tried to strike a measured tone, his off-script statements at his rallies are generally less conciliatory, with 2020 candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke a current favourite target.

Friday marks 200 years since The Peterloo Massacre, in which British authorities killed 18 people and injured hundreds more in Manchester following a protest calling for parliamentary representation reform.

The massacre was called “one of the defining moments of its age” by historian Robert Poole, and led to the establishment of The Guardian newspaper amid a crackdown on journalists that led to the closure of the Manchester Observer.

Friday also marks the day Vladimir Putin first became Russian Prime Minister 20 years ago. Then-President Boris Yeltsin was clear that he wanted Putin to be his successor, and when Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned on 31 December that year, Putin’s premiership meant he automatically became Acting President.

The weekend begins in protest with a gathering organised in Oregon on Saturday by far-right-wing Infowars commentator Joe Biggs. According to Biggs, the protest aims to move towards “end[ing] domestic terrorism” perceived to be committed by non-Trump supporters.

Portland has been a flashpoint for clashes between right-wing protesters ant antifascist groups, with previous rallies descending into violence.

The 18th meeting of the participating members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) takes place in Geneva, and will for the first time consider the protection of giraffes in addition to elephants, sharks and other species.

The move to protect giraffes was put forward by a number of African countries, after recent figures suggested that giraffes are going through a “silent extinction” with their numbers dwindling by 40 per cent in the last 30 years.

Unless an extension is drawn up, the temporary export exemptions for US companies dealing with Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei expires on Sunday.

The 90-day reprieve, announced on 20 May, comes as part of Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China, as well as a fear in western countries that the independence of Huawei’s technology has been compromised by the Chinese government.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Andrew Boyers

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