The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 21 January 2019

Politics

Image: Getty Images

One way or another

The UK prime minister presents her latest Brexit plan to parliament today. Who will she choose to woo?

Theresa May is in an unenviable position. After a pre-Christmas postponement, the long-awaited vote on her Brexit proposal last week yielded a defeat more comprehensive and historic than even the most pessimistic forecasts predicted. Having had five days to cobble together an alternative, which will be presented to the Commons today, it’s unlikely that she’ll experience a sudden turnaround in fortunes. As Lance Price, Tony Blair’s former director of communications, told The Briefing, she faces a stark choice: placate the headbanging Brexiteers in the DUP and her own party with a harder line towards the EU or display a hitherto concealed reservoir of bravery and make a cross-party appeal to the centre. More than a decade after Blair left office, UK politics has changed: for Theresa May, says Price, “There is no Third Way”.

Hospitality

It’s who you know

Berlin-based Design Hotels has a new CEO and stands to benefit from the connections of its parent company Marriott.

What can the world’s biggest hospitality firm learn from smaller players? Plenty, if you read anything into Peter Cole’s recent move: the former director of business integration at Marriott International became CEO of Berlin-based Design Hotels in December (Marriott acquired Starwood, which owned the boutique-hotel firm, in 2016). Design Hotels founder Claus Sendlinger will stay on as a consultant but Cole intends to bring his corporate experience to the firm, which provides sales, marketing and distribution for more than 300 design-minded hotels around the world. “One of the things I think I can bring is skill in developing partnerships; where I think I can have a greater impact and a lot of fun is working with individual owners,” said Cole on The Briefing. Another benefit for Design Hotels will be optional access to Marriott’s vast database of contacts and the use of its loyalty programme Bonvoy, a revamp of which was announced this week.

Economy

Image: Alamy

Tied up elsewhere

Leaders are meeting in Davos tomorrow for the World Economic Forum – with one or two notable exceptions.

The World Economic Forum’s annual convention in Davos kicks off tomorrow, where state leaders and top economists will gather to discuss global issues and the economy. Yet one leader, whose actions will arguably cause the lion’s share of economic disruption in the foreseeable future, won’t be there. Donald Trump has sent his regrets, citing more pressing matters at home – that is, the US government shutdown. Yet it’s unlikely that Trump is particularly disappointed about missing out. As his instigation of a trade war with China threatens to send further seismic shocks through the global economy, staying out of the Davos spotlight is surely its own reward. Meanwhile, another world leader is notable by her absence – although Theresa May might have welcomed a bit of mountain air to usher in a fresh idea or two.

Environment

Image: Getty Images

Problematic pollution

Hong Kong appears to be eschewing its environmental responsibilities in favour of urban development – which isn’t the strongest of foundations.

Climate-change observers were dismayed at the end of last week when they received Hong Kong’s modest emission targets for the next six years, which include both pollution levels and the number of times they can be safely breached. They made especially hard reading in the wake of October’s doomsday report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Local environmental group Clean Air Network says that the figures have been calculated to allow the gargantuan construction of artificial islands east of Lantau to go ahead without a hitch (one of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam’s flagship promises). While the need to build is understandable, any wilful blindness on the subject of air quality is troubling in this day and age. “It’s hard to see how any council or governments can justify taking action in the opposite direction by lowering pollution limits,” says James Thornton, CEO of environmental NGO ClientEarth.

From Monocle 24

Image: Shutterstock

Yemen’s civil war: is the end in sight?

The Foreign Desk

It is nearly four years since the start of Yemen’s civil war, which has turned into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. It is also a complex conflict that seems to have reached a military stalemate. But is there an end in sight? Andrew Mueller is joined by Iona Craig, Osama Al-Rawhani and Bill Law.

From Monocle Films

In praise of balconies

Look up as you stroll Zürich’s streets and you’ll see these outdoor living rooms everywhere. Monocle Films visited the city to outline this architectural feature and how it improves quality of life.

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