Monday. 20/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Venetia Rainey

Time to break the impasse

The protracted uncertainties surrounding Brexit are starting to feel like the new normal for the UK. Labour and the Conservatives have suspended talks indefinitely, yet parliament, and indeed the country, remains split on what to do next. Prime minister Theresa May has said that she will step down if her EU withdrawal deal is rejected (for the fourth time) in early June – which seems likely – but that solves nothing. Who’s next? Will there be an election? A referendum?

One positive to come out of all this is that the months of political shilly-shallying have given the business community time to get its act together. The 29 March date may have ended up meaning little to the government but companies up and down the UK made sure that they were ready for any eventuality: whether that involved shifting resources around, setting up offices outside the EU entirely or having specific teams in place to deal with any fallout. From the business community the message is clear: prolonging this limbo is the worst option on the table.

Election / Australia

Topsy-turvy down under

Scott Morrison has returned to office as Australia’s prime minister following a tightly contested federal election on Saturday. After trailing the opposition Labor party in opinion polls in the run-up, Morrison’s Liberal-National party pulled off a shock victory by emphasising the importance of the economy – and warning that a Labor leadership would result in less prosperity for the country. However, lurking in the background is the question of climate change. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal but its inability to modernise and usher in energy reforms has irked citizens; it’s also helped to end the reign of at least four prime ministers since 2010. Morrison (pictured) has dodged the issue until now but an environmental roadmap has never been more vital.

Politics / Chicago

Full of bluster

Chicago has a new mayor: Lori Lightfoot will be sworn in today after sweeping the run-off vote in April. She is not only the first black female mayor in Chicago but the city’s first openly gay one too. But those aren’t the only reasons why her election is momentous: Lightfoot is seen as a major reformer of the city’s police department. When she was head of the Police Board, the number of officers who were fired after facing disciplinary hearings jumped from 37 per cent to 72 per cent. She was also appointed to chair a Police Accountability taskforce, where she called out racial discrimination and bad practices within the department. With her campaign promise to clean up city politics, many will be expecting her to bring that record of reform to other departments as well.

Politics / Taiwan

Just the opposite

Taiwan has become the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. The landmark decision was passed by the self-governed island’s parliament on Friday with the law coming into effect this week. The move is about political posturing as well as LGBT rights, according to professor Rana Mitter, director of the University of Oxford China Centre. “One of the primary motives for all political parties in Taiwan is to try and make sure that they are seen as distinct from the mainland of China,” he told The Briefing. “Pushing forward policies that look very different from the mainland – socially-progressive, liberal, democratic – show that it’s a different sort of state.”

Hospitality / New York

Ready for check-in

The best that most airport hotels can offer is a comfortable purgatory. These liminal spaces are designed for the irksome killing of time when the hours before the next flight are too many to linger in the terminal and too few to make for the city. Offering a rethink is the newly launched TWA Hotel at New York’s JFK Airport. The 512-room affair has been fashioned within the shell of the old Trans World Airlines terminal, designed in 1962 by US-Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. The vivid reds of the interior will be unkind to the tired eyes of fatigued travellers but the hotel has a rooftop pool, several restaurants (with Michelin-veteran chefs at the helm) and a well-stocked library decked out with Herman Miller loungers. Chain hotels at airports the world over should take note.

M24 / The Stack

Global newsstand tour

This week we head to Tel Aviv to speak with the editor in chief of Israeli daily Haaretz. Plus we speak to the editor of a magazine dedicated to Asian cinema and finally we sit down with Mr Magazine himself.

Monocle Films / Estonia

Property Prospectus: Kalamaja

Tallinn’s Kalamaja neighbourhood boasts a vibrant community of young professionals; Monocle Film visits to find out what it’s like to live and work in the blossoming Estonian capital.

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