Monday. 10/6/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Venetia Rainey

And they’re off

So, who’s in? By 17.00 today we will have the definitive list of those who would lead Britain’s Conservative party (not to mention the country) through the most turbulent peacetime period in the nation’s modern history. The winner will be tasked with an all-too-brief period to patch up a deal with the EU before the final (or rather, more final than the last time) Brexit date of 31 October. With 11 vainglorious graspers for this poisoned chalice, it’s a crowded race.

Normally in politics a profusion of candidates means a diversity of opinion or approach – but not here. Frontrunners – former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, his successor Jeremy Hunt, former Brexit minister Dominic Raab and environment minister Michael Gove – are all entertaining the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. The only horse in this race with an original idea where the above is concerned is Rory Stewart, secretary of state for international development. Stewart has suggested a “citizens’ assembly” of 500 members of the public who would put their heads together to find a broader national consensus (we said it was an original idea, not a good idea). But a broad national consensus on the EU is exactly what the UK doesn’t have. Tories will be hoping that the next prime minister – whoever they are – can at least drum one up in their own party.

Transport / Russia

Letting the brakes off

Russia has a notoriously unloved train network that hasn’t been modernised since the end of the Soviet Union. But in the past 13 years there has been a concerted effort by the Kremlin to shake off the image of its creaking rolling stock, in the form of a high-speed train network. Currently there is one line, which runs between St Petersburg and Moscow, carrying Siemens-made Sapsan bullet trains – but they are hugely oversubscribed. So Russia is investing €1.1bn in 13 more Sapsans, the first of which will roll out in 2022 and have a lifespan of 30 years. Hopefully this is phase one of many. Harder-to-reach cities further east desperately need fast rail links if they are to have any chance of discernible development.

Media / Basel

In the know

The undisputed top appointment of the art-market calendar, Art Basel decamps to the Swiss city this week. Those keen for a steer on the most intriguing performances, artists and installations at the Messe (as well as the most refreshing Rhine-side swimming spots) need look no further than our brand-new Basel Special Edition newspaper. Produced to coincide with the fair, it contains stories on Art Basel’s behind-the-scenes workings and explores the importance of the fair for brand Basel. We check in with the city’s de facto mayor and speak to the directors and CEOs shaping this year’s edition; we also test out the beds at the palatial hotels where those in the know rest their heads after they’re done toasting a deal. We hope you enjoy – pre-order your copy online now.

Technology / London

Gathering momentum

Today sees the beginning of London Tech Week, a series of events focused on every aspect of technology, from the future of work to artificial intelligence. There will be a series of high-profile speakers, including British Airways CEO Alex Cruz, Barclays UK CEO Ashok Vaswani and Square’s Jack Dorsey. There’s a focus on 5G from Tuesday to Thursday, which is an indication of how important the super-fast phone network service is expected to be; today also happens to be the day that UK network Three is announcing a 5G service launching in August. That’s later than EE (which is live already) and Vodafone, which arrives on 3 July. That said, Three boasts that it has more 5G spectrum than rival networks, resulting in more impressive speeds. Exactly what 5G can deliver is bound to be explored in more detail at London Tech Week – and beyond.

Cyber warfare / The USA & Russia

Blocking tactics

Ever wary of Russian interference, the US army is preparing to test out new technology that could prevent hostile forces from disrupting or jamming its GPS signals. Following ongoing reports of Russian forces meddling with signals from western militaries over the past few years – not least during Nato-led Trident Juncture exercises in Norway in 2018 – the Department of Defense will be trialling a new system. Called Mounted Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Maps, for short), the technology will be used on some of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment’s vehicles in Germany this autumn; the plan is that it will make their GPS jam-resistant. The need to tackle this vulnerability is clear and urgent: Russia is way ahead of the US (and other Nato members) when it comes to electronic warfare.

M24 / Eureka

The Water House Project

Gabriel Waterhouse is the founder and chef behind The Water House Project. After years of cooking in London’s Michelin-starred kitchens he yearned for a less structured environment – what he calls ‘social fine dining’. The result is an eight-course dinner served three times a week in a warehouse space on London’s Regent’s Canal.

Monocle Films / Global

The beauty of stairs

Staircases can trigger conversations, provide a sense of arrival and dazzle with ingenuity, so why are they often overlooked?

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