Prime Minister to return to Brussels on Wednesday: Theresa May will return to Brussels on Wednesday to continue talks on her Brexit deal. She will meet the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. Earlier, Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay updated the Cabinet on talks with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. This meeting, on the issue of the Irish backstop, was described as “productive” but Mr Barnier “expressed concerns”. Jeremy Corbyn also announced that he would be going to Brussels to meet Mr Barnier on Thursday. The Labour leader said they would discuss his party’s Brexit proposals – including a permanent customs union and a strong relationship with the single market – and that it was a “necessity” to take no deal off the table. (BBC News)

May rules out ‘Malthouse compromise’: Theresa May has told Conservative MPs that the ‘Malthouse compromise’ cannot replace the Irish backstop. Ahead of her trip to Brussels on Wednesday, the Prime Minister told the Cabinet there was no way of working the proposals up into a concrete solution in time for Brexit. The Malthouse compromise would have involved May renegotiating the backstop element of her Brexit deal to replace it with a free trade agreement with as yet unknown technology to avoid customs checks on the Irish border. It would also have extended the transition period for a year until December 2021 to allow more time to agree a new trading relationship. (The Guardian)

Honda says Brexit not to blame for closure of flagship UK plant: Honda have insisted that the decision to close its flagship British plant was not because of Brexit, as it cited other factors such as the rise of electric cars and the small size of the market in Europe. Takahiro Hachigo, Honda’s chief executive, took pains to disassociate Brexit from the closure of the factory west of London in 2021. “Brexit was not take into account”, he said at a news conference in Tokyo, adding that the company will keep its European headquarters in the UK. Ian Howells, Honda’s top UK executive, also said that in addition to the 3,500 direct jobs affected at the company’s Swindon plant, a further 3,500 people “working in affiliates primarily supplying Honda” in the UK could be at risk. (FT)

Britain’s EU workforce in decline as numbers from elsewhere rise: The number of workers in the UK from elsewhere in the EU fell by 61,000 at a time when the number of British and non-EU workers rose, official figures show. There were an estimated 2.33 million workers from the EU27 in the UK between October to December in 2017 but that figure dropped to 2.27 million a year later. A notable drop in workers from A8 countries, which joined the bloc in 2004 and include Poland and Czech Republic, largely accounted for the decrease. It contrasted with an increase in the number of non-EU workers in the UK, rising from 1.16 million to 1.29 million in the same period. This was an increase of 130,000 compared with the equivalent period 12 months earlier, and the highest number since records began in 1997. (The Guardian)

Michael Gove says UK will apply food tariffs in case of no deal: The government will apply tariffs to food imports to protect British farmers in a no-deal scenario, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has confirmed. Mr Gove warned that delays were likely in Calais because of mandatory EU checks on food imports on the French side of the channel. The tariff regime Britain would like to apply in the event of no deal will be revealed in the “next few days”. Mr Gove told the National Farmers’ Union’s annual conference in Birmingham that reports that Britain would operate a zero tariff regime in order to secure frictionless trade in a no-deal scenario were “not accurate”. (The Guardian)

HSBC warns of weak global economic outlook due to Chinese slowdown, trade tensions and Brexit: HSBC has warned about a weaker global economic outlook, as the slowdown in China, trade tensions and fears around Brexit hit its revenues towards the end of the year. It said that it had increased its impairment provision by $165m to cover credit losses related to the economic uncertainty around Brexit. Its chief financial officer, Ewen Stevenson, said this reflected the increased risk of a hard Brexit, and that government contracting, high street retailers and some restaurant chains were particularly vulnerable to the UK leaving the EU without a deal. (The Guardian)