Theresa May considers calls for vote on future relationship with EU: Theresa May is considering demands from Labour MPs for a parliamentary vote on the UK’s future relationship with the EU as the price for backing her Brexit deal. The Prime Minister has been told by Labour MPs that a package of greater guarantees for workers post-Brexit, due to be unveiled on Wednesday, is only enough to convince perhaps three or four more to vote for her withdrawal bill. However, one Labour MP involved in discussions said the key to unlocking the backing of dozens more MPs representing leave-voting areas was the promise of a parliamentary vote on the future relationship with the EU. A Downing Street source said that May had promised an increased role for parliament on the political declaration but not yet set out what this would involve. (The Guardian)

EU must learn from Brexit and reform, says Macron: Emmanuel Macron has called for a new European agency to fight against international cyber attacks and the manipulation of election campaigns, as well as a ban on foreign powers funding European parties, as he set out plans to overhaul the EU in response to Britain’s vote to leave. The French president appealed directly to citizens across the bloc in a long letter (here), putting forward a range of proposals for change including tougher joint action on internet hate speech, the supervision of internet giants, new competition rules, a minimum European wage and a new defence treaty. He also proposed that panels of European citizens should be consulted on EU reforms, not just during election periods. (The Guardian)

Attorney-general seeks revised Brexit deal to avoid permanent backstop: Geoffrey Cox, attorney-general, remains determined to secure a revised Brexit deal that stops Britain being “trapped” in a customs union, according to a senior minister. However, James Brokenshire, housing minister, did not deny a report that Mr Cox had abandoned attempts to secure a hard time limit or unilateral exit mechanism for the Irish backstop, which contains provisions for a “temporary” customs union. The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Cox had concluded that such demands were too “blunt”; they have been explicitly rejected by both the EU and the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar. Instead, Mr Cox, who returns to Brussels this week, is exploring other mechanisms to ensure that the Irish backstop cannot become a permanent arrangement. (FT)

£1.6bn funding boost for poorer towns as May seeks Labour’s backing for Brexit deal: Left-behind towns in England are to receive a £1.6bn funding boost as part of a package of measures designed to win support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal among Labour MPs. However, Labour MPs, including Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell, who had previously signalled they might back May’s deal, criticised the approach and said that the funding would do little to tackle the effects of austerity. The communities secretary, James Brokenshire, said that the cash would be allocated whatever happens in next week’s meaningful vote on the EU withdrawal bill, and that the £1.6bn would be spent over the next seven years. (The Guardian)

Ministers postpone financial services bill debate to avert defeat on tax havens: The Prime Minister’s spokesman confirmed that the financial services (implementation of legislation) bill debate planned for Monday night has been pulled. He said an amendment to the bill requiring overseas territories to introduce registers of beneficial ownership for companies within their jurisdiction needed proper consideration. However, in practice, ministers have postponed the vote because they government was going to lose the vote on the amendment. (The Guardian Live)

ERG to demand at least two days to review any new Brexit deal: Tory Brexiters are to demand at least two days to scrutinise any new offer from Brussels on the Irish backstop mechanism, warning the Prime Minister not to “bounce” the group into an early vote on her Brexit deal. May has pledged that a vote will take place on her proposal, including any changes agreed in Brussels, by 12 March, although it is possible that Downing Street will seek to bring the vote forward to this week if changes can be secured. The EU has suggested that progress has been minimal and a Downing Street source said that there was little optimism about putting any deal to a vote this week. (The Guardian)

Japan’s ambassador suggests more firms could leave UK over Brexit: The Japanese ambassador has suggested that more Japanese companies may relocate away from the UK in the coming months if Britain does not seal a promising post-Brexit deal. Koji Tsuruoka said that Japanese companies had been cutting back on investment in the UK amid the uncertainty. However, he added that it would not take a long time to arrange a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Japan. (Sky News)

UK construction activity falls amid Brexit uncertainty: The UK’s construction industry slumped into contraction last month, as Brexit uncertainty delayed new building projects. After 10 months of expansion, construction companies said that activity levels fell during February, according to the latest survey from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. Reductions in commercial building and civil engineering projects triggered the drop last month, as Brexit uncertainty slowed decision-making and led to subdued demand. (The Guardian)

No deal better than uncertainty, says head of German industry: The head of the German federation of industries has created doubt over Berlin’s backing for a short Brexit extension, claiming that an “economy can live better with bad conditions than with uncertainty”. Dieter Kempf, the chairman of the Bundesverbandes der Deutschen Industrie, said the 100,000 companies he represents and their 8 million employees have prepared for a no-deal scenario in March, not in May. Kemp stated that German companies have “increased their storage capacity…(and) planned a transition period for the reorganisation of logistics processes without loss of production”. He also stated that the deal already negotiated by the EU and the British government was “the best possible agreement for everyone involved”, adding that he had been encouraged by Jeremy Corbyn’s tentative support for a second referendum. (The Guardian)

Insurers prepare to issue emergency motor papers to UK drivers: Britain’s motor insurance industry is gearing up to put new offices into busy UK ports to supply emergency documents to drivers in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The move will enable British drivers to use their UK motor insurance policies in the EU should Britain leave the bloc without an agreement, amid concerns that confusion in this area could exacerbate bottlenecks at ports with major ferry and train terminals. At present, UK drivers can use their policies in the EU. A deal between the UK government and insurers has been struck to allow that to continue after Brexit, although so far the European Commission has refused to approve the arrangements. (FT)