The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 14 March 2017

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Running into trouble?

Nicola Sturgeon takes a run at the UK and goes after a new Scottish referendum.

Ever since the UK’s decision to leave the EU in June last year, Brexiteers have watched on with delight as the country’s economy has confounded the gloomy predictions proffered by the Remain camp. But yesterday we got another glimpse of what the true cost of Brexit could amount to: as Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50 and begin two years of negotiations with Brussels, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon fired the starting gun on a new independence referendum, just three years after the last one. Now the gloomiest prediction that Remainers voiced during the campaign – namely, that Brexit could spell zero access to the single market and the break-up of the UK – looks suddenly not only possible but likely. Doubtless the Brexiteers will scoff again – but their confidence may well have jumped the gun.

International relations

Image: PA Images

Name calling

Turkey’s president says a few things that he might end up regretting.

Turkey is in danger of shooting itself in the foot. Two of its ministers were barred from entering the Netherlands in the run-up to the country’s general election, with authorities citing security concerns over a planned rally in support of Turkey’s referendum on expanding presidential powers. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by calling the Dutch “Nazi remnants” and making veiled threats. Of course, the spat will likely fade in the long-term and Erdogan’s cabinet probably sees this as just another unpleasant interlude that will stir up anti-European sentiment and sway more nationalistic voters to the cause come the referendum. But the Netherlands is Turkey’s biggest foreign investor: it injected about $22bn (€20.5bn) into the economy in the decade leading up to 2015 and today 2,500 Dutch companies operate in the country. Russian sanctions haven’t lifted and Ankara needs European trade – which makes up 75 per cent of all foreign direct investment – more than ever. Mud-slinging never bodes well for business.

Music

Image: Yves Renaud

Wall-to-wall wonder

Pink Floyd’s seminal rock opera gets an operatic adaptation.

Theatre critics often decry the trend of transforming existing works – books, albums, films – into productions for the stage at the cost of producing original work by emerging playwrights, composers and choreographers. But at the Ópera de Montréal this weekend, as part of Montreal’s 375th-anniversary celebrations, the operatic adaptation of Pink Floyd’s The Wall received its world premiere – and offered something new. By transposing one of the great rock-opera narratives into opera itself, composer Julien Bilodeau managed to create a work that pays homage to Pink Floyd’s original and simultaneously stands on its own. Roger Waters’ lyrics, which were written as a call to arms against a ruling class rigid in its worldview, have refreshed poignancy today. Waters, who attended Saturday’s premiere in Montréal, appeared visibly moved by this rendering of his rock masterpiece that speaks to the troubles of the times today as keenly as it did in 1979.

Culture

Image: Getty Images

All you need is love

Unity takes centre stage as South by Southwest kicks off in Texas.

At this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, which kicked off in Austin on Friday, politics is taking centre stage. In his opening speech US senator Cory Booker spoke of “ugly divisions” and “fearsome conflicts” but assured his audience that “there has been a spirit that has still found a way to reach beyond that” and that is love; a central ingredient to any festival of this size. The event, established in 1987, brings together tens of thousands of visitors each year to showcase the latest accomplishments from the technology, music and film industries – be it Google and Levi’s touch-sensitive jeans jacket, whose sleeve works like a touchscreen thanks to conductive yarn, or a musical showcase featuring artists from the seven countries targeted by Donald Trump’s travel ban, headlined by Iranian-born instrumentalist Ash Koosha. Whether it’s protesting politics or celebrating unity, SXSW will offer plenty of both until 19 March.

From Monocle 24

Something old, something new: Francesca and Seana Gavin

Culture with Robert Bound

Robert Bound is joined in the studio by the Gavin sisters: curator and writer Francesca and artist Seana. They discuss the books and art that have influenced their lives and work, from Bronzino’s An Allegory With Venus and Cupid to a selection of old books once owned by cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky.

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