• UK Parliament backs Theresa May’s plan to renegotiate Brexit deal: MPs have backed seeking “alternative arrangements” to replace the Irish backstop in Theresa May’s Brexit plan. The proposal, put forward by Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady, had the support of the government and won by 317 votes to 301. Another amendment, rejecting a no-deal Brexit, also won the support of Parliament, but the vote was not binding. Five other amendments, including Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s bid to delay Brexit if Mrs May does not get her deal through Parliament, were defeated. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that he would now meet the Prime Minister to discuss next steps. (BBC)
  • EU rules out renegotiation of withdrawal agreement: Within minutes of the Commons backing the Prime Minister’s plan to replace the Irish backstop, a spokesman for the European Council’s president insisted that Donald Tusk would not permit any changes to the deal already agreed with Downing Street. Mr Tusk instead urged the Prime Minister to explain her next steps, stating that the agreement negotiated over the last 20 months “remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union”. The spokesman added: “The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation.” French president, Emmanuel Macron, also ruled out a renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement, adding that a no-deal scenario was one that “no one wants but we should all prepare for”. (The Guardian)
  • Defence staff could be redeployed in no-deal scenario: Up to 1,000 defence workers could be redeployed to help the UK government cope with a no-deal Brexit, according to a memo seen by the BBC. The message, sent to staff in the Defence Equipment and Support agency, appeals for volunteers. The note said it was “uncertain” what work would be required if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. However, it said that redeployment in these circumstances would offer a “real development opportunity”. Senior manager Neville Parton, who issued the memo, said that he had been asked to identify volunteers “across all levels and role profiles” as part of contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit. (BBC)
  • Ireland holds firm on budget despite ‘no-deal’ Brexit possibility: Ireland’s finance minister has said that he would maintain his 2019 budget plans even in a no-deal Brexit. Paschal Donohoe unveiled finance ministry forecasts that warn of slower growth and rising unemployment if Britain leaves the EU in March without a deal. Growth would be cut from 3.6% next year to below 1% in such circumstances, Dublin said, and the economy could be 4.25% smaller than current projections in the medium term. However, Mr Donohoe said Ireland would not change the Irish border “backstop” that is part of the UK’s EU withdrawal agreement. Mr Donohoe rejected any time limits on the backstop and insisted no one had produced any viable alternatives. (FT)
  • Ministry of Defence prepares defences against bids for work from EU: The UK is stepping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit by proposing a change in the law under which EU-based companies would no longer have the automatic right to bid for British defence and security contracts worth billions of pounds. Under the current EU regime, companies from the bloc, as well as Norway and Iceland, are entitled to bid for Ministry of Defence orders such as warships, missiles or ammunition, unless the contract is considered essential to UK national security. However, the MoD has tabled draft legislation that would mean only companies based in the UK and Gibraltar had the automatic right to bid. (FT)
  • UK financial regulators seek to shore up post-Brexit EU accords: The UK’s two financial regulators are negotiating agreements with European authorities so that they can continue to share information in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The FCA and PRA are in negotiations with European supervisory authorities such as the European Banking Authority and also national financial regulators across the other 27 Member States. (FT)