Monday. 27/1/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Mueller

Easier said than done

By this time next week, the UK will have formally excused itself from the EU. This feat will be trumpeted by UK prime minister Boris Johnson as the delivery of the promise that got him elected in December: “Get Brexit done”.

The phrase will be recalled forever as a masterpiece of political copywriting – a brisk, straightforward pledge of decisive action. It is also, however, an illustration of HL Mencken’s immortal dictum: “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem – neat, plausible and wrong.” As the following weeks, months and, possibly, years and decades are about to demonstrate, Boris Johnson has not got Brexit anywhere close to done.

Ahead lies the infernally complex task of negotiating the UK’s new trading relationship with the world – and with it, perhaps, the dawning of a realisation among Brexit cheerleaders, and the voters who trusted Johnson to “get it done”, that the anticipated serene ascent to the sunlit uplands might be more akin to climbing the Matterhorn in a Scuba outfit.

Since the referendum of June 2016, Brexit advocates have seethed and bristled at those whom they accused of thwarting them. As of this Friday, they will be out of excuses. For whatever difficulties and drawbacks await, they no longer have reason to blame anybody but themselves. They will, though, of course.

Diplomacy / Middle East

Empty talk

Donald Trump will welcome Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli prime minister’s political rival Benny Gantz (both pictured) to the White House tomorrow. If Trump’s goal was to mediate Israel’s domestic political crisis then this might be a good look. Instead, ahead of the meeting, he intends to release his administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East. For such an accord to have any hope of success, it naturally requires the assent of another party: representatives from Palestine. But they have not been invited to Washington. That makes it all the more likely that Trump’s peace deal will be dead on arrival – or that it is meant purely for Israeli consumption. While such a move might suit Netanyahu, it seems particularly short-sighted to think that the more liberal-minded Gantz will go along with such a one-sided show. The former military man knows all too well the consequences of yet another failed attempt at lasting peace. The art of diplomacy requires – at the very least – getting the right people around the table.

Politics / Australia

Feeling the heat

Today’s Australia Day holiday will provide only temporary respite for the country’s under-fire prime minister Scott Morrison (pictured, centre). After admitting regret for going on holiday during some of Australia’s worst ever wildfires, the climate-change sceptic is now facing criticism over his environmental policies from inside his own party. Morrison has rejected claims of any split between him and his cabinet but there is no denying his plummeting popularity with the voting public, who only recently handed his Liberal-led coalition a surprise election victory.

One of his ministers is also facing calls to resign over a scandal involving spending cash from a sports-grant programme in key marginal seats. The heat will be turned up on Morrison when parliament returns next month for the opening session of the new year.

Society / Canada

Speaking up

Statistics Canada estimates that Michif – the official language of Canada’s Métis population, a combination of both Cree and French – is the first or second language of little more than 600 people. But, thanks to a clever new partnership between the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan and the magazine Canadian Geographic, help is on the way to preserve the threatened tongue. Under the banner The Future of Michif, the partnership will produce a documentary film, a magazine feature and even a free summer camp to teach the language to Métis youth, at a cost of CA$1.8m (€1.2m). Canadian Geographic is also developing a language-training programme for teachers, while its social-media platforms will feature a Michif word of the day. For Canadian Geographic the programme is an innovative way to generate new content and a key part of its efforts towards reconciliation with indigenous communities.

Retail / Germany

Fair games

Founded in 1970, Ispo Munich is among the world’s largest trade shows for sports fashion and business. It’s now celebrating its 50th year and has reached this milestone by keeping a close eye on future trends: the 2020 edition has the topic of sustainability front and centre. The event, which runs until Wednesday, is expected to welcome some 80,000 visitors from 120 countries, who will meet manufacturers and suppliers including Veja, The North Face, Adidas and about 2,800 other exhibitors displaying the newest sports equipment and offering the latest industry insights. Notable events include today’s debate on “Co-creation for Future”, which takes a look at the challenges that the industry faces. Elsewhere, the “Vaude Upcycling Workshop” runs all day tomorrow (Tuesday) – but don’t let that stop you from popping into the Scandinavian bar for a fika coffee break from 15.00.

M24 / The Stack

‘Vogue Polska Man’, ‘Vogue Poland’ and ‘Americas Quarterly’

We speak to Filip Niedenthal, editor in chief of Polish ‘Vogue’, who also recently launched the first issue of ‘Vogue Polska Man’. Plus: we meet Brian Winter, editor in chief of ‘Americas Quarterly’.

Film / Global

Designing the news

How do you unpack stories in the most engaging way while building a credible and comprehensive brand? Monocle Films showcases best design for paper and screen too.

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