Britain and Germany to sign new defence deal, Mexico calls on builders to boycott Trump’s wall, and how to learn new things as an adult

Theresa May hopes European security contribution will win Brexit goodwill

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As Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50 next week, Whitehall officials are putting the finishing touches on a wide-ranging legislative agenda that needs to be on the statute book by the time Britain leaves the EU in 2019. The prime minister will embark on a tour of the UK in an attempt to unite the country before she starts formal Brexit negotiations at the end of the month.

But Mrs May is also trying to reinforce claims that she is not turning her back on Europe. Britain and Germany are set to sign a new defence co-operation deal after Brexit, a move she hopes will win goodwill among her 27 EU partners. Here is the FT’s Wolfgang Münchau on why a sensible Brexit deal is more probable than many people think: “Contrary to the warnings I keep hearing, I believe that the chances of an exit deal under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union are not all that bad.” (FT)

In the news

G20 ministers hit impasse with US Finance ministers had gone into this weekend’s G20 meeting eager to ease their most powerful member closer to the centre ground. But Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, appeared to have “no mandate” to settle his country’s position on free trade, according to Germany’s finance chief Wolfgang Schäuble. Germany also traded barbs with Mr Trump on defence spending after he declared that Germany owes “vast sums” of money to Nato and the US. It followed an awkward first meeting between the countries’ leaders. (FT, Bloomberg, Independent)

Uber loses another top exec The president of the car-booking service, Jeff Jones, quit after just six months amid a series of scandals. Mr Jones joined Uber in September last year from retailer Target and he was charged with improving Uber’s brand and reputation. “The beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber,” he said. (FT)

Pay rises back in vogue Twice as many top American companies increased their chiefs’ pay in fiscal 2016 as those that cut it, as the stock market notched strong gains and corporate profits rebounded over the course of the year. Median pay for top executives is now on track to set a post-recession record. (WSJ)

Bidding begins for Trump’s wall Mexico has called on its national companies to “examine their conscience” and refuse to tender bids to build Donald Trump’s wall as the US gave bidders a week and a half to submit applications to construct a barrier with an “aesthetically pleasing” US side. Around 700 companies have registered interest for tenders for the 30-foot high structure. (FT)

Power to you Vodafone, the UK-based mobile phone operator, has struck a deal to merge its Indian operations with rival Idea Cellular in a deal that will create one of the largest telecoms companies in the world. The merged group would have around 380m users. (FT)

This is what happens when you post fake news on Facebook Stopping the spread of false information is a big task for the social network — there is simply too much content for them to vet manually. But Facebook’s new feature is picking up steam, as evidenced by a story that was shared widely in the lead-up to St Patrick’s Day that claimed thousands of Irish people were brought to the US as slaves. (Quartz)

It's a big day for

The eurozone Finance ministers from the bloc will gather in Brussels in unusual circumstances, with Jeroen Dijsselbloem — who has chaired the eurogroup since January 2013 — potentially on the way out after his party was crushed in last week’s Dutch elections. The main item on the agenda will be Greece. (FT)

French election The five leading candidates gather for the first televised debate ahead of the elections. Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron currently leads the polls. The contestants are offering radically different visions for their country — here is a round-up of their policies. (Reuters)

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

Food for thought

China reboots its superpower ambitions A read into the lengths to which Beijing is going in its efforts to upend the world order and become self-sufficient in tech by 2025. If successful, the plan could mark a fundamental shift from an economy that earned a reputation as a copycat manufacturer to one that is setting the pace. (FT)

The blow-it-all-up billionaires How reclusive hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer — a tycoon who indulges in conspiracy theories and has argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a mistake — and his daughter Rebekah exploited America’s populist insurgency and laid the financial and intellectual foundation for Donald Trump’s administration. Here’s another long read on the “blow-it-all-up billionaires” and one more for good measure. (New Yorker, HuffPo, WaPo)

The BBC dad’s kids remind us of our workplace pomposity The FT’s Lucy Kellaway on what the viral video reveals about the artificiality of the professional self. “Being at work means claiming to be “passionate” about things we have to believe matter, while the presence of a toddler makes sustaining that pretence hard — serious things suddenly look laughable.” (FT)

One missing comma cost a company millions A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for a group of US truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families, foes and grammar nerds: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma. (NYT)

How to learn new things as an adult A new book digs into the neuroscience of learning and shows why it’s so hard to remember facts. Some of the most common ways we try to memorise information are completely ineffective. This is what we should do instead. (Atlantic)

Video of the day

The week ahead A look at the big stories to watch in the coming days, from regional elections in Germany to the beginning of the Formula One season. (FT)

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