Theresa May needs to win friends in Europe, not berate her way to a Brexit deal

The government must win friends to influence people. 

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That the Times' splash focuses on Jeremy Hunt on underage sexting (he's against it, not sending it himself) gives you a flavour of today's news: it's all quiet on the Westminster front. 

As far as the Brexit talks are concerned, the big news is the public repudiation of Theresa May's efforts to secure a pre-Article 50 deal on the rights of EU nationals already living in Britain, and British expatriates living in EU countries. Donald Tusk and Angela Merkel have both reiterated that there will be no deal or pre-negotiation until the UK presses the Article 50 button.

But what the PM - and indeed much of the reaction - attests to the continuing blind spot (or at least continuing blind spot) in Westminster's approach to the Brexit talks. 

The bulk of British expatriates in the European Union live in Spain - the fourth destination worldwide for British immigrants, after the United States, Australia and Canada - then Ireland, then France - seventh and eighth - respectively. Germany is ninth.

The bulk of European nationals living in Britain are from Eastern Europe, though some 270,000 Germans do reside here.

Merkel is powerful, but Berlin can't negotiate on behalf of Madrid, or Warsaw, or Prague.  One of David Cameron's problems in his attempt to "renegotiate" Britain's continuing membership of the EU was he thought, wrongly, that to square Merkel was to square Europe, much to the irritation of politicians who could, with a little more work and wooing, been his allies. Now May is doing the same thing, but the stakes are significantly higher. There is still a narrow path to a Brexit deal that doesn't knacker the British economy. But irritating the rest of Europe isn't the way to get there.


Sadiq Khan will criticize the government's approach to negotiating Brexit in a speech later today, and will announce that he will seek to secure the right for London-based businesses to issue visas, to keep the capital's dynamism and growth going. City AM's Mark Sands has the story.


Jeremy Hunt has called for social media companies to block children from sharing sexually explicit images with one another. "There is a lot of evidence that the technology industry, if they put their mind to it, can do really smart things," the Health Secretary said. "Firms must stop child sexting" is the Times' splash. 


RBS, which is still majority-state owned, has failed the Bank of England's latest round of stress-testing, and has had to draw up a new capital plan. Barclays, which also struggled to pass the stress-tests, has already taken action to fix the problem. The Bank of England's tests are designed to see if Britain's largest banks could survive a serious financial crisis


Mitt Romney, who called Donald Trump "a phony, a fraud" during the campaign, enjoyed an awkward dinner with the President-Elect as he attempted to persuade Trump that he should be appointed Secretary of State.  The photos were widely mocked on social media. CNN's Jim Acosta and Daniella Diaz have the inside track on the meal.


Samantha Cameron has launched her own line of clothing, Cefinn, with a photoshoot in Vogue. The debut range contains 40 pieces of clothing. 


Anna explains why Strictly and the X-Factor were able to eliminate their novelty acts where the Republican Party failed.


Can you trust the government with your data asks Amelia

James Millar on the underrated caution of Nicola Sturgeon

Here's a way to heal a divided Britain, says Rafael Behr

Henry Mance on a close-fought battle in Richmond

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Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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