Friday. 15/2/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Brexit

Let the right ones in

A no-deal Brexit would see Switzerland limit its intake of UK workers and could encourage companies to hire English speakers from elsewhere.

Another day, another Brexit complication. The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has led the Swiss to announce that, in the event of a “disorderly” divorce, a quota will come into effect for UK citizens seeking to work in Switzerland. The current Swiss-EU pact that allows free movement would cease to apply to UK nationals. Instead, 3,500 permits would be granted between 30 March and the end of this year. About 4,000 UK nationals emigrate to Switzerland per year, according to Cenni Najy, a political analyst at Swiss think-tank Foraus, but he worries that they would be treated as “second-rank” citizens under the new rules. “There are many multinational companies here – Ralph Lauren, Nestlé, Google – that rely on highly qualified native English speakers,” he says. “We will find them elsewhere: in Ireland, for example.”

Image: Getty Images

Transport

Tunnel vision

Ontario’s premier is offering the province’s coffers to Toronto’s subway system – but there’s something he’ll want in return.

Doug Ford, Ontario’s populist premier, is meddling in Toronto’s affairs again. Earlier this week the province began talks to take over the operation of Toronto’s subway system, which has long been run by the city. Ford (pictured) claims the province’s deep pockets will accelerate the subway’s expansion – but it will also give him the power to determine where new subway lines are built. He’s championed extending the subway into the suburbs, one of his political strongholds, despite projections that these lines would be among the least-travelled in the city and cost billions. What Toronto really needs is a downtown relief line for its booming city centre. If Ford is serious about improving transit he should simply increase funding and allow Toronto to determine its own future.

Image: Alamy

Business

Political animal

Japan is trying to think of new ways to sell whale meat – but does anyone want to eat it?

At the end of last year Japan dismayed conservationists by withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission in an effort to revive its commercial whaling industry. Though Japanese boats are now at liberty to spear mammals on the high seas, the industry faces a problem: a lack of demand. The government-funded Institute of Cetacean Research, which is in charge of distributing the commercial catch, wants to make whale meat more appealing by partnering with Norwegian whalers Myklebust Hvalprodukter. The plan? To leverage Norwegian expertise in producing sausages, steaks, health supplements and dog treats. Will the idea sink or swim?

Geopolitics

Communication breakdown

A spat between the US and China over mobile networks could prompt a bad reception at the Munich Security Conference.

Speakers including Angela Merkel and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov gather in Bavaria today for the start of the 55th annual Munich Security Conference. The event is no stranger to fiery clashes between heads of state; this year all eyes will be on China and the US, whose delegations are expected to lock horns over America’s campaign to exclude Chinese companies from the construction of Europe’s 5G mobile networks. “With Mike Pence attending instead of Donald Trump, it’s possible that things might be less inflammatory,” says Ulrike Franke, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The best outcome would be a continuation of the current situation and a reaffirmation of transatlantic relations.”

Will Spain see its third prime minister in a year?

The Foreign Desk: Explainer

Spain’s government has hit a dead end on its budget reforms, meaning a snap election looks all but certain. Will this help secure a fresh mandate for PM Pedro Sánchez or will it create less stability in the already fractured parliament?

Creative Mallorca

Palma has kept its charm for young creatives despite its tourist-trodden streets. We meet the people keeping this city alive.

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