The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 10 July 2018

Government

Image: Getty Images

Sinking ship

The Brexit deadline looms as Theresa May’s self-serving cabinet ministers squabble and wreak irrevocable damage to the UK’s standing.

Britain is being harmed yet again by squabbling Tories doing battle with each other over the nation’s relationship with the EU. On Monday the Brexit secretary David Davis and the foreign secretary Boris Johnson resigned after taking against a negotiating position agreed just last Friday (now deeming it too soft). It leaves prime minister Theresa May facing an uncertain future and a potential vote of no confidence (but if she is booted out she will be in good company – the Brexit referendum having already snubbed out David Cameron’s premiership). But, for now, the UK has a government in disarray, an unworkable diplomatic impasse and a culture of political gamesmanship that shows no sign of abating – and an opposition Labour party that lacks any convincing alternative vision. Whether watching from Brussels or from the boardroom of a business wondering about whether to invest, the British political class look chaotic and self-serving. Just what the likes of Johnson have been falsely accusing the EU of for decades.

Transport

Image: Kohei Take

Electric dreams

Japan’s government has put the brakes on petrol and diesel cars but manufacturers are having problems following its roadmap.

With air quality a growing concern globally, a committee formed by Japan’s economy minister announced yesterday that it wants all cars produced in the country to be electric by 2050. This is a lofty aim – not least because the country’s biggest car manufacturers have very different ideas when it comes to rolling out electric vehicles (EVs). Toyota has predicted the end of the internal combustion engine in the past but, last September, it changed tack, with president Akio Toyoda announcing that he has no plan to focus solely on EVs. While Nissan’s strategy hinges largely on going electric, Honda plans to stay its course of manufacturing hybrid cars. If the automobile is to remain the prevalent mode of Japanese transport in 2050 and beyond, the government needs a cohesive strategy on how to turn carmakers towards the greater good without compromising their profits.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Power trip

As Turkey’s leader consolidates his powers and the country saunters towards autocracy, who are its closest allies?

Modern Turkey’s longest-serving leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was inaugurated yesterday into a new role designed especially for him: executive president. The 64-year-old has effectively ruled by decree since July 2016, when a failed coup attempt was followed by a state of emergency that is still in operation today. Erdogan’s new role, however, will make the sweeping powers bestowed to him under state of emergency permanent. As Turkey took another step towards autocracy, it was intriguing to see which foreign dignitaries were present at the ceremony. Leaders from Venezuela, Qatar, Russia, Pakistan and Hungary were out in force, while the US sent only its chargé d’affaires in Ankara. Despite Turkey being a Nato member, yesterday’s guest list demonstrates where the country’s closer allegiances are today.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Window of opportunity

With the return of the Thai football team trapped underground comes a chance for the ruling junta: could it be PR to the rescue?

The world has been closely following the story of the Thai youth football team who have been trapped for days in an underground cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai. The rescue attempt has, at the time of writing, seen all but four boys and their coach released from the flooded tunnel. But now as focus moves to the boys’ recovery, another political story is emerging: the Thai ruling junta’s use of the rescue effort to polish its own reputation. Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha successfully led a coups d’état in May 2014 and has faced criticism for criminalising dissent and delaying democratic elections ever since. Now he appears to be seizing the opportunity to publicly comfort the relations of the trapped boys. In this case, a successful rescue, although carried out by international teams, would be a PR victory for the junta.

From Monocle 24

Image: Ann Ray

‘McQueen’

The Monocle Culture Show

Robert Bound is with the film critics Anna Smith and Tim Robey to discuss the legacy of celebrated fashion designer Alexander McQueen as depicted in a new film McQueen, and to work out what makes a great fashion documentary.

From Monocle Films

2nd Cycle – collectable cast-offs

In 1935 the founders of Artek drew up a manifesto that the Finnish furniture company still lives by. Their slogan “one chair is enough” promoted a philosophy of intelligent consumption, which resulted in well-designed, timeless pieces that are still coveted to this day – so much so that Artek is hunting down old items and bringing them back to life.

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