The Spectator

Portrait of the Week: the war on smoking, Trump’s trial and O.J.’s death

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Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said that British fighter jets had shot down ‘a number of drones’ fired at Israel from Iran. Additional RAF jets were deployed over Iraq and Syria, where Britain was already taking part in Operation Shader against the Islamic State group. Some people decided not to attend the annual Downing Street Eid party in protest at the government’s support for Israel; the Prime Minister was not there because he was making a statement to the House on Iran’s attack. A Muslim pupil at the Michaela School in Wembley, whose head teacher is Katharine Birbalsingh, failed at the High Court in challenging its ban on prayer rituals.

More than 250 survivors of the Manchester Arena bomb attack in 2017 planned to take legal action against MI5; a public inquiry found that MI5 had missed a chance to prevent the bombing. Rishi Sunak called a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights ‘a complete overreach’ when it declared that Switzerland was not doing enough to tackle climate change. Liz Truss, a former prime minister, told The Spectator: ‘I felt that the US was a stronger force under Trump.’ The Commons voted 383 to 67 to make it illegal for people born after 31 December 2008 ever to buy tobacco, though 57 Tories voted against. Greater Manchester Police investigated whether Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, had committed any crime in the information she gave about the council house she sold in 2015 being her main residence.

The proportion of those aged 16 to 64 not in work or seeking it grew to 22 per cent. GDP rose by 0.1 per cent in February, and the annual rate of inflation fell to 3.2 per cent from 3.4 per cent. People receiving a letter with a stamp deemed by Royal Mail to be counterfeit are being charged £5; the fakes were blamed on China and Royal Mail criticised the Border Force for failing to stop them coming into Britain. MPs rejected the amendments made in the Lords to the Rwanda Bill. On 13 and 14 April, 748 migrants crossed the Channel in small boats. Squatters occupied the empty York & Albany public house, next to Regent’s Park, belonging to Gordon Ramsay, which had been put up for sale for £13 million.

Abroad

Iran attacked Israel with 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. Israel said that 99 per cent had been destroyed. A seven-year-old Bedouin girl was critically wounded. It was the first time Iran had attacked Israel directly from its own soil. Some missiles were fired from Yemen and Iraq. The United States said it had helped shoot down the missiles. After the attack, Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, said the confrontation with Iran was ‘not over yet’. America told Israel it would not join any counter-strike on Iran, but it expected to bring new sanctions against the country. President Joe Biden of the United States repeated his earlier declaration of ‘ironclad’ support for Israel. The Iranian attack took place following an Israeli air strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on 1 April. In the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian special forces seized a commercial ship, the MSC Aries, linked to the Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

After a year of civil war, the Sudanese government was reported to be using drones made by its ally Iran to halt the progress of the Rapid Support Forces; millions of civilians had been displaced. Dozens of Russian military instructors arrived in Niger. More than a ton of cocaine was intercepted by customs authorities in Senegal near the border with Mali. Joe Biden announced that he was cancelling a further $7.4 billion in student debt for 277,000 people, bringing to $153 billion the debt cancelled for 4.3 million of the 43 million in America with outstanding student-loan debt. Only six of the initial 96 potential jurors were found to be impartial as a New York court began the criminal trial of Donald Trump on charges of falsifying business records. O.J. Simpson, the American football star controversially cleared in 1995 of the murder of his former wife and her friend, died aged 76.

Before being shot dead by police, a man fatally stabbed six people and wounded a nine-month-old baby, whose mother died protecting her, at a Sydney shopping centre. On the orders of Emir Kir, the mayor of the Brussels district of Saint-Josse, police prevented anyone entering the National Conservatism Conference in Brussels where Nigel Farage was speaking: Viktor Orban had been expected later. Copenhagen’s 17th-century stock exchange, which was being renovated, burned down, its 180ft spire plunging into the flames.               CSH

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