Thursday 21 February 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 21/2/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Step in the right direction

Well at least this is fun. Since the Brexit vote in 2016, UK politics has been grim viewing: can you stomach Jeremy Corbyn attempts to avoid giving an opinion, or Theresa May driving the nation off a cliff (with a good shove from right-winger Jacob Rees-Mogg)? But the seven Labour MPs who resigned the whip on Monday were yesterday joined by one more from their party as well as three respected Conservative MPs. They are banding together as the Independent Group, though the party bit – in all senses of the word – is yet to come. These centrist, pro-Europe politicians might crash and burn but finally there are politicians who refuse to follow their parties to-the-death mantras. Let’s hope that more join them. Many Britons have been political orphans since 2016; now maybe they will have someone on their side. And, even if the movement fizzles out, we can enjoy the spectacle of Corbyn and May realising that they are losing voters – and the plot.

Image: Reuters


Vote of confidence

Ottawa and Kiev have enjoyed a warm relationship since Canada became the first western country to recognise Ukraine as a nation state in 1991. That’s why as the eastern European state prepares to go to the polls on 31 March, Canada is especially alert to potential Russian meddling in this presidential election. It has pledged CA$24m (€16m) for electoral reform and on-the-ground observers – 50 Canadian diplomats have been deployed to guide the proceedings, with more to follow soon. And this is a significant move, says professor Gwendolyn Sasse, director of the Centre for East European and International Studies in Berlin: “It sends a signal that the process around the elections must be up to international democratic standards.”

Image: Getty Images


Locked and loaded

If your day job involves selling missiles or tanks, it’s quite likely that you took a flight to Abu Dhabi this week as the Gulf state once again hosted the annual International Defence Exhibition & Conference (Idex). Key international defence giants, such as BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin, as well as some 1,300 other exhibitors, are all in town as they attempt to tap in to the Gulf’s vast defence budgets, which are expected to hit almost €91bn this year. Indeed, as the fair ends and defence group CEOs return home tonight, they will be celebrating the fact that the UAE alone has spent more than €4.5bn, including – in just one day – €1.4bn worth of Patriot interceptor missiles from US manufacturer Raytheon and €188m worth of contracts with local players. The neighbouring war in Yemen has made many Western governments squeamish about arms sales in the region – but this has clearly not dented the mood at Idex.

Image: Alamy


Deer prudence

Nara, Japan’s 8th-century capital, is famous for being picturesque – but its wild residents get the most attention. More than 1,000 deer roam freely around Nara Park and have been happy to pose for the camera and accept the occasional snack from passing tourists (local shops do a brisk trade in animal crackers). Or at least they have until now. Incidents of biting were once rare: in the five years to 2017 only 10 people were injured but last year that number rose dramatically to 200 – and most of those were foreign tourists. One cause of the unwanted nibbles seems to be tourists teasing the animals – clearly not a wise approach. But one thing is clear: big stag parties can lead to trouble the world over.

Image: Alamy

Meeting Sir Terry Farrell

Architect Sir Terry Farrell’s playful pastiche of styles can be seen from the MI6 building to the Breakfast Television Centre in London. His six-decade career has veered from masterplanning city blocks to building train stations in China. Josh Fehnert sits down with the postmodern master.

The art of restoration

Monocle Films pays a visit to a restoration firm that has saved pieces by artists as diverse as Caravaggio and John Kirby.


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