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The Brexit plan outlined by Theresa May in her long-awaited speech was being pored over across Europe on Wednesday. UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson penned a column predicting that countries will be queueing up for trade deals with the UK in the aftermath of Brexit. The European press was less complimentary, with Die Welt mocking Mrs May with the headline “Little Britain”.

In Brussels, there was unease at Mrs May’s threat to walk away from a ‘bad deal’ on trade. The EU’s top negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned that talks on a trade deal would be contingent on a divorce settlement with the union. The prime minister of Malta, which holds the European presidency, made clear that any deal with the UK must be “inferior to membership” in the EU. Meanwhile, employers in the UK have been warned to take action to protect their EU staff after Mrs May refused to reassure them over residency rights for EU citizens ahead of Brexit negotiations. (Telegraph, Independent, FT )

In the news

Pearson share dive Education publishing giant Pearson has issued its fifth profit warning in four years, prompting shares to plummet 26 per cent. The former owner of the FT cited “an unprecedented decline” in its US business and announced plans to sell its stake in Penguin Random House. (FT)

Assange under pressure The commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence by US President Barack Obama has put pressure on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to hand himself over for extradition to the US. Mr Assange vowed he would emerge from his sanctuary at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to face charges related to the leak of classified material if Mr Obama offered “clemency” to Ms Manning. The former US army intelligence analyst was court-martialled after disclosing military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks. (FT, Independent)

Trump’s international ties Politically connected Indonesian billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo is a friend and business partner to Donald Trump. But the US president-elect’s ties to men such as Mr Tanoesoedibjo have raised questions about how he can manage the US’s global affairs while his foreign policy decisions could have a direct impact on the Trump Organisation. (FT)

Transition trouble in Gambia Tourists are being evacuated from the Gambia as political tensions escalate in the west African country. On Wednesday the national assembly passed a resolution allowing President Yahya Jammeh to remain in office for three months, even though he lost a presidential in December. Thursday is supposed to be inauguration day, but the president-elect remains outside the country. (Guardian, FT)

Samsung chief questioned Samsung Group leader Lee Jae-yong has been questioned by a South Korean judge to decide whether he should be arrested over his alleged role in the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Some analysts say the hasty merger of two of Samsung’s member companies in 2015 may have inadvertently laid the groundwork for Mr Lee’s alleged involvement in the scandal. The judge is expected to make a decision later in the day. (Reuters, NAR)

Davos briefing

Read our full special report The World, coinciding with Davos.

Xi Jinping committed to globalisation China’s president launched a robust defence of globalisation and free trade at the World Economic Forum, drawing a line between himself and Donald Trump just three days before the US president-elect’s inaugural address in Washington. The spectacle of a Chinese Communist party leader defending the liberal economic order against the dangers of protectionism from a new US president underscored the upheaval in global affairs. (FT, NAR)

Trump also committed? Anthony Scaramucci, Mr Trump’s newly appointed public liaison official, told the World Economic Forum in Davos that the president-elect was committed to globalisation, open trade and Nato, despite recent comments that unsettled America’s allies. (FT)

Davos elite needs to heed wrath of the ‘left behind’ Almost all countries are failing one of the necessary conditions of a responsive economy — the ability to harness rapid productivity gains. (FT)

Follow Davos events on the World Economic Forum website.

It's a big day for

US economy The Fed will release the so-called Beige Book, which provides useful colour on the mood of corporate captains around the country, while consumer price index figures are released. The data come as the incoming Trump administration signalled its willingness to comment on the value of the dollar. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.

Food for thought

The peril of authoritarian nationalism Yuval Harari, the Israeli historian, recently argued that “for all the disillusionment with liberal democracy and free markets, nobody has yet formulated an alternative vision that enjoys any kind of global appeal”. This is true, yet irrelevant, writes the FT’s Martin Wolf. “Authoritarian nationalism potentially has such appeal. It has moved into the core of the world system. That changes everything.” (FT)

No right-turn for Spain A decade after the start of the financial crisis, Spain has yet to see the arrival of a populist far-right party such as the National Front in France, an anti-immigration platform such as the Alternative for Germany or an anti-EU movement such as the UK Independence party. Why has the political centre held sway in the wake of the crisis — with no populist backlash, no anti-immigrant wave and no revolt against globalisation? (FT)

Middle Eastern hazards for Trump If Donald Trump sticks to his views on a region plagued by implosion and explosion, he could “fall into its elephant traps or disappear down its myriad rabbit holes”, warns the FT’s David Gardner. (FT)

Saddam’s work undone The Iraqi wetlands destroyed by Saddam Hussein as punishment for a political uprising in the 1990s are slowly coming back to life, allowing the Marsh Arabs to return to their ancient home. (Guardian)

A super, supercomputer China plans to develop a prototype exascale computer by the end of the year, state media said, as it seeks to win a global race to be the first to build a machine capable of a billion billion calculations per second. (Yahoo)

Video of the day

May’s Brexit plan FT editor Lionel Barber speaks to columnist Janan Ganesh about Theresa May’s approach to the Brexit negotiations. (FT)

This article has been updated to correct the headline, which said Ghana instead of Gambia

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