As Britons continue to work their way through advent-calendar chocolates, they might be ignoring another countdown: tomorrow marks 100 days until Brexit becomes a reality. An intensive few weeks of parliamentary wrangling have revealed little about the final deal: we still have no idea what exactly Brexit will look like or – whisper it – whether it will even go ahead. Yesterday prime minister Theresa May announced that a vote on her proposed deal will take place on 14 January, having originally been slated for before Christmas. That’s one new-year hangover that will be hard to shift.
India has promised a €1.2bn bailout to the Maldives as the island nation finds itself ensnared in Chinese debt. The archipelago’s new president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, took over in November following five years of his predecessor’s heavy borrowing from Beijing to fund infrastructure projects. Aggressive Chinese investment in the Indian Ocean – an attempt to steer smaller states away from India’s influence – has driven countries into catastrophic debt before: in 2015, Sri Lanka was forced to hand over the port of Hambantota after defaulting on the payback. Solih will hope to find a more benevolent benefactor in Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.
Last weekend saw protesters take to the streets of Budapest in response to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s new “slave law”, which allows employers to demand that their charges work 400 hours of overtime per year (up from 250). Meanwhile the gilet jaunes (yellow vests) continue to exert pressure on the French government and, in Brussels, Flemish right-wing demonstrators marched in protest against a UN migration pact. Steve Crawshaw, author of Street Spirit: The Power of Protest and Mischief, believes that, while protests around the world vary enormously, history shows that peaceful ones work better in the long run. “Protests that use violence, or encourage it, rarely have a positive outcome at the end,” he says. “What works? Knowing exactly what you want and how to achieve it.”
The King’s Cross restaurant-cum-bar Spiritland has made vibrations since it launched its soulful menu to a similarly thoughtful soundtrack in 2016. Decked out with a booth-shaking sound-system by Living Voice, it also hosts a series of all-star discussions and events that make the city’s best venues blush. Starting tomorrow, Spiritland will take over a residency at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank at a larger 180-cover space. Started by Paul Noble (a founding Monocle 24 producer), Patrick Clayton-Malone and Dominic Lake, Spiritland’s largest space to date promises informal canteen-style fare elevated to new heights and a soundtrack to see you through the liveliest of repasts. Encore.