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2018 July / August

AT THE TIME of printing, central London is hitting a steamy 30C, and temperatures are certainly rising in Parliament as the UK continues to hash out the intricacies and realities of Brexit. Corporate giants like Boeing and BMW are circling, threatening to pull business from the country unless a deal is met and warning of the dangers of Brexit uncertainty. Clarification is required by the end of the summer, they say. The House of Commons Defence Committee released a report stating that the defence budget should increase if the UK is to maintain influence with Washington and Nato allies. Diplomat’s newly-knighted columnist Sir Bernard Jenkin writes that as the UK leaves the EU, “expect the UK to refocus on the importance of Nato in the years ahead.” Home Secretary Sajid Javid recently announced that EU citizens will have to answer three simple questions online if they want to continue living in the UK after Brexit. He remarked that “the government’s ‘default’ position would be to grant, not refuse, settled status.” The scheme will operate online and via a smartphone app, with answers checked against government databases and a decision given “very quickly.”

As we really consider the practicalities of leaving the EU, Diplomat meets with VFS Global’s COO for Europe, Anirudh Singh, to discuss how embassies can benefit from modern visa processing services, increase tourism and trade and enhance their country’s reputation. With 2,612 application centres and operations in 139 countries across five continents, VFS Global serves the interests of 59 client governments, including the UK.

In our cover story, Boris Johnson’s former media lead, Simon McGee, compares press conferences to dinner parties. He offers an entertaining but practical account of “how to land your message competently in the minds of your target audience via sceptical journalists and then …get the hell out of there alive with as many limbs intact as possible.” Now Executive Director at APCO’s Global Solutions practice, he provides us with plenty of amusing anecdotes from his time as press secretary to two British foreign secretaries.

As it emerges that former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker is claiming diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy proceedings, due to his new role as the Central African Republic’s Attaché to the EU for Sporting, Cultural and Humanitarian Affairs, the BBC’s James Landale considers diplomatic immunity. He traces the principle that messengers should be given safe passage (“and not killed or eaten”) back to many pre-literate societies. Also, in this edition, we have contributions from the Ambassadors of Azerbaijan, Senegal and Slovenia along with the High Commissioner for the Bahamas.

As always, Diplomat reviews the credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting the Ambassadors of Ireland, Italy and Peru. In the lifestyle pages, Diplomat wines and dines at Bob Bob Ricard under new chef Eric Chavot, and experiences the gob-smacking new offering from the InterContinental Park Lane – the Capital Suite.

Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice for the months ahead, including the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A, and the special 250th anniversary edition of the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.

Finally, I always want to hear from you, our readers, on article suggestions, new appointments, local news and other embassy events that you would like covered. Please contact me on vvk@diplomatmagazine.com

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