One of the many criticisms thrown at the Leave campaign during the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union was the absence of a plan. There was a slogan – “Take back control” – some contentious claims about savings and a lot of rhetoric about immigration that, at its best, leaned towards the xenophobic. In the seven months since the UK voted to leave, the plan for what happens next has remained similarly elusive. The UK’s prime minister, Theresa May (who would rather you forgot that she campaigned to remain in the EU), yesterday tried to rectify that with a speech that confirmed that the UK will leave the single market and end freedom of movement. It didn’t promise much else though – and when negotiations get underway in March, the UK will begin to learn what the 27 remaining members of the EU will want in return.
Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has appointed retired Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie to head his government’s committee on Canada-US relations just days before Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington. The move says much about how Canada intends to approach its relationship with the new leadership of its most important economic and diplomatic partner. Leslie has close ties with Trump’s nominee for defence secretary, General James Mattis, and his incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn, and was awarded the US legion of merit by George Bush in 2006 for Canadian military co-operation. The appointment suggests a willingness on Canada’s part to work with the Trump administration on equal terms and that Trudeau expects defence, not diplomacy, to be the key tenet of Canada-US relations during the first term of the Trump presidency.
It is hard to see what the point was of the Israeli and Palestinian peace talks that took place in Paris this week. For a start, neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians turned up. It felt like a last-gasp effort from two administrations on their way out of the door: US president Barack Obama leaves office at the end of this week and his French counterpart François Hollande will be replaced in May. Few observers believe that Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, will have any more joy; this week Trump claimed that his 36-year-old property developer son-in-law Jared Kushner would be able to find a solution because he’s a “natural deal-maker”. Instead, keep your eye on the Russians. Fatah and Hamas met in Moscow this week for reconciliation talks, while Russia has also been careful to maintain good ties with Israel. Could Putin be about to make another Middle East power play?
Attention all urban-planners: Hanoi needs you. Vietnam’s Department of Transport is running a competition to find a congestion-busting solution to the capital’s gridlocked streets and the winning entry stands to win a prize of VND4bn (€166,000). Traffic jams are estimated to cost the country €1.1bn each year, according to research from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City. Submissions open on 19 January and the Transport Department is encouraging entrants to focus on underground transport and plans for managing a surge in private vehicles. Inspiration could come from the Spanish city of Murcia, where officials offered residents lifetime tram passes in exchange for turning in their vehicles. There’s just one snag: if the construction of Hanoi’s much delayed five-line monorail is already moving at a sluggish pace, how will the next project go?
Pitti is a critical appointment in a buyer’s calendar; each has favourite pavilions, buying tactics and strategies with which to approach the mammoth task at hand. Monocle’s Chiara Rimella caught up with three of them to understand how they get business done in Florence.
Craftsmanship has been at the beating heart of Vienna for hundreds of years; Monocle Films visits three family-run companies that have made tradition relevant.
Want more stories like these in your inbox?
Sign up to Monocle’s email newsletters to stay on top of news and opinion, plus the latest from the magazine, radio, film and shop.