OPINION - The Standard View: Rishi Sunak's perilous task to stop war spreading

Christian Adams (Christian Adams)
Christian Adams (Christian Adams)

“You have suffered an unspeakable, horrific act of terrorism and I want you to know that the United Kingdom and I stand with you.” Rishi Sunak arrived in Israel this morning with a message, but also on a multifaceted mission.

His first aim is to demonstrate, by both his presence and actions, Britain’s solidarity with Israel, after it suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history. Second, it is to ensure humanitarian aid gets through to Gaza, something US president Joe Biden’s visit appeared to secure. And third, to “avoid further dangerous escalation” as a broader conflict threatens to break out in the Middle East.

To that end, the UK is stepping up its diplomatic efforts. In the coming days, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will embark on a trip to Egypt, Turkey and Qatar to help secure regional support for restraint.

Sunak’s task is a perilous one. There are few good options for Israel at this point, but the aim of preventing others from joining this already bloody conflict is essential.

Warning on cladding

Newham council has secured a landmark conviction against the owner of a tower block over its failure to remove dangerous cladding in the wake of the Grenfell disaster.

Chaplair Limited had faced prosecution after missing a March 2021 deadline for work on an apartment block in Forest Gate where four types of flammable cladding were found, including the same type of aluminium composite that contributed to the Grenfell fire. It is thought to be the first time a local authority has used its powers under the 2004 Housing Act for a cladding-related prosecution.

There must be a zero-tolerance approach to getting rid of dangerous cladding and implementing other fire safety measures. We have already seen what the devastating alternative can be. Today’s ruling should act as a warning to all tower block owners that they must comply with the law and act with residents’ safety as a first priority.

Our awards shortlist

The shortlist for this year’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards has been announced, and it is a tribute to the sheer star power and talent that runs through the London stage. Paul Mescal, Nicole Scherzinger, Patsy Ferran and Paapa Essiedu are among the leading acting lights who have been nominated. Past winners of the awards, which began in 1955, include Dame Judi Dench, Sir Laurence Olivier and Tom Hiddleston.

This year’s winners will be revealed on November 19 at a ceremony at Claridge’s hosted by this newspaper’s proprietor Lord Lebedev, alongside co-hosts David Harewood, Vanessa Kirby, Ian McKellen, Sienna Miller and this year’s presenter Susan Wokoma.