“This is a tale of two cities. Two cities with shared histories and multiple similarities — Olympic hosts, Commonwealth cousins, hubs of diversity and cultural capitals. It’s a cautionary tale of what can happen when a referendum is put before the people and, overnight, great cities fracture, public confidence collapses, and good places start to rot,” writes Tyler Brûlé in the Financial Times.
I revisited this post-Brexit piece this week in listening to the companion documentary on Monocole 24’s The Foreign Desk, London and Montréal: what lessons can Quebec teach post-Brexit Britain? This fresh take on Brexit and a possible future path of the UK rises above the tired debate heard from many outlets.
The narrative is from an entrepreneur who spent a decade of his youth in Montréal and built a sprawling publishing and advertising business in London espousing a globalist view. The Monocle world is one of morning dips in Zurich’s lakes followed by shopping for big ticket Swiss furniture, lunch in the Alps buying more big ticket Swiss furniture, and dinner in Tokyo buying big ticket clothes. It is unabashedly pretentious yet thoughtful. Their vision is of global entrepreneurs and craftspeople criss-crossing the globe. Monocle was fiercely Remain in the Brexit debate.
On my only visit to Montréal I had no inclination that it was recently more than a quiet backwater, that it had been Canada’s financial center and now even Bank of Montréal is headquartered in Toronto. I knew it once hosted the Olympics and a baseball team. The ride in from the airport is desolate. The town is sleepy.
A take on Brexit well worth your time and consideration. Mr Brûlé continues:
If you’ve been wondering what might become of London and many other cities in the UK in a post-Leave world, take a drive in from Dorval airport in Montreal. You can’t drive in from Mirabel, the other international airport that was built for the Olympics and Montreal’s boom years, because the rush never came and it is now mothballed…
Montreal is still a delightful place — highly liveable, cheap, culturally interesting and edgier than booming Toronto. It’s also not attractive to international companies or other Canadian companies because of its out-of-step language laws and a lingering sense that much of the sentiment was personal.