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Brexit’s end destination is still something of a mystery — so much so that UK ministers will gather on Thursday at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence, to thrash out a common cabinet position. Or so Theresa May, the prime minister, hopes.

Martin Wolf argues in his column on Wednesday that the UK’s fate is, in fact, clear because of Mrs May’s own “red lines”. When the dust settles, he writes, Britain will have become Canada and will relate to the EU in a manner not unlike that country’s relationship with the US, often finding its more-powerful neighbour frustrating and overbearing.

And a trade model based on Ceta would impose real economic costs. Canada has benefited from its agreement with the EU. But a post-Brexit deal along these lines would harm the UK’s much larger economy, which is dominated by services. And new trade deals will not be able to trump the iron law that trade depends on geography.

Sebastian Payne argues that David Davis, the Brexit secretary, may be the man to sell the compromise policy in the short term. But Martin argues that in the long term, the entire UK will be the loser, and will feel it. “The price of being and outsider will be palpable and permanent,” he writes. Oh Canada!

To the baccalaureat barricades!
Anne-Sylvaine Chassany ponders the first overhaul since the 1960s of France’s school leaving examination. The bac, introduced in 1809, is sacred, she writes, and proposals to require earlier specialisation (whittling down the current range of 12 subjects to only four, with a major oral presentation) would be a revolution.

Millennial anxiety and its economic effects
Sarah O’Connor explores feelings of insecurity among the UK’s generation for whom housing costs are prohibitive, degrees expensive and wages going south. As she points out, the cumulative effect is a whole cadre less willing to take risks. Changing the way young people feel and behave, she argues, changes the shape of the economy itself.

Edging towards conflict
David Gardner writes on the real story from the Munich security conference. Against a “morbid backdrop” of aircraft downed over Syria, the defence experts gathered there talked up the risks of armed conflict. US national security adviser, HR McMaster told the Munich conference, ominously, “the time is now, we think, to act against Iran.”

Best of the rest

Why Brexit at all costs really is dispiriting — Alex Massie in The Times

How banks could control gun sales if Washington won’t — Andrew Ross Sorkin in the New York Times

Future of our universities is at risk from both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn — Peter Mandelson in the London Evening Standard

In praise of non-compliance — Chris Deerin in The Herald on #MeToo at the Baftas

What you’ve been saying

The monarchy, and to an extent Britain, are irrelevant to most Australians — letter from Michael Paul Leadbetter:

Mr Payne rightly describes Australia as “a place where 26 years of growth and waves of immigration have created a fresh, diverse and prosperous nation that is utterly focused on Asia”. With good reason, he frets about Britain’s post-Brexit friendship, and then mainly obsesses about the republic v monarchy in Australia. In doing so, his column’s focus is itself outdated and rather misses the point. It focuses on monarchy rather than actual person-to-person or institutional connections; nor does he comprehend wider issues. He does not consider areas of close current co-operation, such as defence and security, nor how Australia and Britain’s relationship can be mutually beneficial, for example exchanges of renewable energy technologies, or expertise and market access in Asia.

Comment from marmora on Eurozone reformers act as if the crisis never happened:

If there is an Euro-Treasury which in the canon of the EU is the next logical step for it to take, then its means that Germany will be making wopping transfers of its egregiously large trade surpluses to less successful EU economies by virtue of the issue of a true Euro ( the currency/not the petro-dollar variety ) Bond to buy junky national bonds.

Once the Euro-Treasury is in place all the economic cant of neo-economic received wisdom will have its day with nothing to prevent large bail-outs to all the ailing economies of the Union. Being a democratically appointed body, the new Treasury will have a member from each EU member on its governing body, which will allow for actionism among failing members of the Euro. In other words, organizationally the Treasury is certainly a bad idea for Germany and almost certainly a bad for the EU itself.

We must take personal steps against Big Tech — letter from Joel S Richman:

His dire predictions sound accurate, but not his solution. Rather than just wait for government (which is slow) or Big Tech (which craves the income) to do the right thing, each of us must take immediate and concrete self-regulatory steps and measures to preserve the mental and emotional freedom of ourselves and loved ones. It is time to reawaken what President Herbert Hoover called the “rugged individualism” of our history while the powers that be keep up their blather.

Today’s opinion

Britain’s road to becoming the EU’s Canada The UK government’s red lines rule out other post-Brexit trading options

Renamed streets signpost a return of cold war diplomacy A spat over embassy addresses is a sad reflection of the state of US-Russian relations

Israel and Iran edge closer to conflict Middle East tensions are greater than at any time since the end of the cold war

Millennial insecurity is reshaping the UK economy Fears about low wages, home ownership and costly degrees are paralysing young people

Free Lunch: How internet giants damage the economy and society Big Tech’s dominance has exacerbated a shift in incomes from labour to capital

Instant Insight: David Davis can be the Conservatives’ Martin McGuinness The Brexit secretary must win over his troops like the Irish republican leader did

FT View

FT View: Striking dons add to UK students’ resentments The cuts to university lecturers’ pensions are too deep, and divisive

FT View: Latvia’s scandals show limits of EU bank rules If the local regulators cannot resolve the crises, the ECB is stuck

The Big Read

The Big Read: US economy: The growth puzzle After several years of weak demand and low inflation, investment is rising. But an increase in long-term growth requires a big jump in productivity

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