Tuesday. 19/2/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Magnificent seven?

A group of UK MPs have quit the Labour party in a move that could offer voters a new centrist vision.

For those in the UK who have been fretting about who to vote for in a general election – just as many of Monocle’s editors have – a potential option has emerged: seven Labour MPs have quit the party in protest against Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to, among other things, Brexit. They will remain in parliament as independent MPs (under the banner The Independent Group) and have invited politicians who feel unrepresented by their respective parties’ policies to follow their lead. It might be a bold move but it’s hard to imagine that these MPs won’t find broad support from voters who are seeking a centrist vision and are frustrated by the chaotic response to Brexit. In the meantime, Honda is expected to announce the closure of a car plant in Swindon today. The Japanese carmaker hasn’t confirmed that the move is a response to Brexit but, with other companies making similar plans (see story four), a new perspective in Westminster can’t come soon enough.

Image: Getty Images

Transport

Payback time

Train delays are hitting Germany’s operator where it hurts – perhaps this’ll be the impetus it needs to get its timings back on track.

Late trains are costing Deutsche Bahn a pretty penny. With one in four of its trains delayed in 2018, about 2.7 million passengers demanded compensation. The German state-owned railway operator ended up forking out more than €53m – €18.4m more than in 2017. Right now a passenger whose train is an hour late can get a quarter of their ticket price refunded; if it’s two hours or more, it’s 50 per cent. But with the European Parliament pushing for greater compensation for passengers (half the price for an hour’s delay and a full refund for more than two hours), costs could rise steeply. Deutsche Bahn has long needed to make punctuality a priority so let’s hope a hit to the pocket will be a motivator.

Image: Reuters

Politics

Step in the right direction

In a welcome departure – and a record for the country – four women have taken up cabinet jobs in the new Lebanese government.

It’s all change in Lebanon – or is it? The good news is that the country finally has a government and, even better, there are four women in it, up from only one in the last cabinet (in which even the women’s minister was a man). In a regional first, the top-flight post of interior minister has been given to Raya al-Hassan. “This is hugely significant,” says Carmen Geha, a professor at the American University of Beirut. But as for whether they’ll add fresh impetus to the search for solutions to the country’s biggest problems, from a mounting debt crisis to the Syrian refugee issue, she says they’re more likely to echo the usual party lines. “But I do have faith that they will be able to pioneer new policy and programmatic conversations, such as the one Hassan has begun on civil marriage.”

Monocle

Front-page news

In the absence of any decisions over Brexit, we’ve made one of our own: relocating the printing of our magazine to Germany.

Aside from marking our 12th anniversary, our March issue – pictured here and on newsstands from Thursday – is also something of a collector’s item as it will be our last (for now, at least) to be printed in the UK. As many industries weigh up manufacturing in a limbo Brexit world, we're taking our April issue to the presses of Neef + Stumme in the heart of Niedersachsen (otherwise known as Lower Saxony) to ensure that there are no hiccups in delivery and quality. You will note a few improvements when the next issue lands, many of them the result of state-of-the-art presses, fine German paper stock and a few other tweaks that we’ll leave as a surprise.

Simone Marchetti, ‘Vanity Fair Italy’

The Stack

We speak to the new editor of ‘Vanity Fair Italy’ and we discuss their glorious cover with Italian icon Raffaella Carrà.

The secret to building affordable homes

As part of our new series we visit the architecture practice of Andreas Martin-Löf, which is reinventing residential housing in Stockholm.

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