It’s a new year and it will bring new opportunities, challenges, and triumphs. Our experts tell you what to expect.
Martha Kelner, sports correspondent
I am looking out for… how England perform in the UEFA Nations League.
After several tumultuous years spanning the downfall of FIFA, Russia, bullying and football’s child sex scandal, the guardians of sport would like for the action to take centre stage.
But I predict it will be another busy year on the sports news circuit. I believe we will see an escalation in racism in football after the recent incidents involving Chelsea. But hopefully more players exercising their voice on key issues as Raheem Sterling did recently. The publication of the Sheldon report into sex abuse in football will make grim reading for the FA, too. The organisation will also be closely scrutinised in their appointment of a successor to outgoing chief executive, Martin Glenn.
I predict Manchester City will narrowly hold off Liverpool to win the Premier League. But it won’t all be smooth sailing with the findings of a UEFA probe into allegations of abuse of the Financial Fair Play system to come. That, I believe, could see City banned from next season’s Champions League.
It is a fallow year in terms of major men’s football tournaments but I think England will win their first trophy under Gareth Southgate by triumphing in the UEFA Nations League. The women’s World Cup in France will take centre stage in June as England aim to better their third place finish in 2015, a true test for controversially appointed manager Phil Neville.
There is also the cricket World Cup in England, a chance for star all rounder Ben Stokes to put the ugly scenes outside a Bristol nightclub behind him. And, in the autumn, England’s rugby union team will travel to Japan for the World Cup, but manager Eddie Jones could prove a divisive leader.
With only a year to go until the Tokyo Olympics, I think Adam Peaty will continue to break records in the pool. Netball will continue to stake a claim to a spot on the Olympic rostrum with a home World Cup for Commonwealth champions England. A proper opportunity to increase the popularity of the sport and get teenage girls back being active again.
Paul Kelso, health correspondent
I am looking out for… what the long-term plan is for the NHS.
The year will start with the NHS grappling with winter pressure while preparing for a full-blown crisis should spring deliver a “no-deal” Brexit. Publicly ministers insist everything that can be done has been, but with demand set to rise while medicines and medical supplies potentially run short, NHS leaders, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry are nervous.
Early in the New Year, the government intends to publish its long-term plan for the NHS, which will promise to improve outcomes and waiting times for patients despite scepticism over whether the additional £20bn promised is enough to meet existing demands, let alone do more.
The long-term plan will look to the future so expect the NHS to spend 2019 exhorting the public to embrace prevention while it grapples with familiar problems, including a staffing crisis exacerbated by Brexit that could be made worse by the proposed new immigration policy, and will not be solved by a renewed focus on technology.
We may also finally see a social care green paper, but it is already a year late and there are suggestions this crucial but deeply difficult issue, so fundamental to the health service, may drop even further down the agenda because of Brexit.
Alistair Bunkall, defence correspondent
I am looking out for… hostile states.
Although the threat from Islamist extremism hasn’t gone away, we’ve moved to a place where state-based actors again pose the gravest threat to our security.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues to seek influence and power through subversion. The Kremlin and its intelligence agencies have been caught out and increasingly called out for their brazen foreign exploits, but Moscow seems unashamed and its ambitions remain unabated. Having been re-elected in March, Putin is unlikely to soften over the coming year. Ukraine, Syria and the Balkans remain key areas to keep an eye on in 2019. So too any Western democratic process, such as Brexit.
Such is its economic might and global ambition, China is the growing long-term threat. Western states, for so long the world’s preeminent military powers, are struggling to establish a coherent strategy to counter Beijing’s rise.
Through massive investment in its armed forces and technology, China has quickly positions itself as a match or even superior to the United States in some fields.
Although the Singapore Summit delivered hope and a calming in tensions, little substantial has changed on the Korean Peninsular and North Korea remains a nuclear threat. Watch Kim Jong Un’s New Year speech for a good indicator as to which direction he wants to take his country in 2019.
Overall though, future power lies in the control and dominance of technology – the “fourth industrial revolution” as the Head of MI6 recently described it. Traditional military capabilities remain vital to security but those who endeavour to harness technology as a weapon and a shield, will prosper. Our enemies and our allies know it.
Ian King, business presenter
I am looking out for… global GDP slowdown.
Global GDP growth will be slower in 2019 than in 2018 as the impact of the tariff war between the US and China is felt. As concerns over growth mount, the US Federal Reserve, under pressure from Donald Trump, holds back from raising interest rates as much as expected, but the dollar weakens as a result.
The oil price continues to drift as the US and Russia, now respectively the first and second-biggest producers globally, pump record amounts of crude – weakening the grip of the OPEC nations on the market.
Caught in the crossfire between China and the US, Germany slips into recession, while concerns about French President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to push through planned reforms and Italy’s budget deficit condemn the eurozone economy sees only very modest GDP growth.
In Britain, business investment continues to fall amid uncertainty over the UK’s ongoing trading relationship with the EU, while house price growth grinds to a halt as the malaise in London and the southeast of England during the last 18 months percolates out across the country.
Rowland Manthorpe, technology correspondent
I am looking out for… things to get worse before getting better.
At times in 2018, it felt as if the entire world was crying out: “Something must be done about tech!”
Well, those cries have been heard.
In 2019, governments around the world will move to tackle the myriad harms enabled and exacerbated by digital technology.
The UK has a closely watched online white paper; the EU is working on privacy and copyright; the sclerotic US congress is beginning to stir itself on the crucial issue of antitrust; there’s even talk of action on taxation.
Will it make any difference? Perhaps – GDPR certainly has. But there’ll also be plenty of laws passed purely to grab headlines, like the government’s toothless digital services tax.
Either way, one thing’s for sure: 2019 will see no decline in the tension between governments and big tech. And, on the ground, I see few signs of improvement.
Sorry to say, but even when something is done, things are likely to get worse before they get better.
Beth Rigby, deputy political editor
I am looking out for… Brexit to dominate the political agenda.
I can make just one firm prediction for politics in 2019: Brexit will dominate the political agenda to the exclusion of all else.
As for the rest, well that is impossible to predict. Will we actually leave the EU on 29 March as the prime minister has repeatedly promised, or will Brexit be delayed? Will there be a second referendum? Will there be a general election? Will Theresa May still be prime minister by the end of the year?
Brexit is so undivinable because it is so divisive. Two-and-a-half years after Britain voted to leave the EU, the government, the cabinet, political parties and parliament are in still battle over not just how Britain should Brexit, but whether we should exit at all.
Leaving the EU is perhaps the most significant political and economic event in this country’s post-war history and that is why it has paralysed our political class. This is a high-stake test and each parliamentarian feels they have to get it right.
If MPs cannot decide they might, in the end, have to put it back to the voters – in a general election or a second referendum. I can’t predict how Brexit will be settled, but I can predict this: the sense of crisis and chaos is going to last a few more months yet.
Mark Stone, Europe correspondent
I am looking out for… a Brexit delay and European elections.
2019 will be a tricky year right across Europe.
Brexit is just one of many fragmenting forces pressurising the European Union.
Populist anti-establishment parties continue to capitalise on anxieties over migration (which is now much more of a perceived problem than a real one), and a broad mistrust of mainstream politics and media.
This is most acute in Italy – a key EU player, where de facto prime minister Matteo Salvini’s popularity continues to soar as he latches on to, and fuels, a growing euroscepticism.
Economically, the EU bean counters predict that the economy will grow by 1.9% in 2019. But analysts think this may be optimistic.
The European Parliament elections in May will be a key moment to test the direction of the continent. Will eurosceptic, more nationalist parties do well? Or will liberal Green parties make surprising gains as they did in some national and regional elections in 2018?