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Donald Trump was going to come to Britain. Now he is heading to Davos instead. After disparaging the new US Embassy in London, the US president has decided to visit the UK on another occasion. For now, the prospect of a potentially awkward lunch with the Queen and dealing with thousands of protesters has been avoided. In the coming days Mr Trump has to think about what he is going to say to the global elite.

In his column, Philip Stephens says the Davos folk like attention and a spectacle, something the president will offer in bucket loads. But he cannot ignore the fact that Europeans do not really like him — hence this year’s slogan of “a shared future in a fractured world”. His presence will probably stoke anti-American feelings on the continent. Philip points out that worldwide polling shows not many people outside the US think he is offering the right kind of leadership.

All of this is somewhat embarrassing for Britain, the US’s special friend in Europe. Theresa May made a misjudgment by rushing to Mr Trump’s side so early in his presidency. Brexit inevitably means that as the UK disconnects from Europe, it has little choice but to move closer to America. The timing could not be more unfortunate. Whereas Europe’s response to the Trump presidency has been one of strict damage limitation, Philip points out that the UK has to embrace its Atlantic cousins whatever the cost.

Brexit Tapestry
Inspired by the likely arrival of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK, Robert Shrimsley imagines what a sequel about Brexit would look like. The referendum campaign is summed up as Cochlea ups matrium omnium.

In defence of plastics
Design historian Penny Sparke argues that although we are rapidly falling out of love with the material, it was the great hero of previous eras. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was the go-to choice for everything from chairs to clothing.

Phase two 
Chris Giles thinks power will trump economics in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations. He says the optimal economic outcome would be continued single market and customs union membership. The fact that is unlikely to happen shows which forces are guiding the process.

Best of the rest

Vision, Chutzpah and Some Testosterone’ — The New York Times offers an insight into the views of Trump supporters

Bold thinking will seal the best Brexit deal — Iain Martin for The Times

Much fire and much fury — Jasper von Altenbockum in the FAZ on the efforts of Germany’s Social Democrats to conjure a coalition deal sweetner to sceptical party members.

China, the green joker — Marie de Verges in Le Monde

Through humility and understanding, we can still stop Brexit — Andrew Adonis for The Guardian

What you’ve been saying

The ‘latte levy’ is just one solution to waste menace — letter from Louise Harpman, New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study

“Sir, Last term, my highly caffeinated undergraduate design students at New York University were charged with identifying an “urban pet peeve” and coming up with a solution to solve it. They focused on the extreme and unnecessary waste created by our ubiquitous “take-out” coffee culture. During their research, the students discovered what your writers noted: that coffee cups with plastic waterproof linings are not easily recyclable. In New York, we found only five downtown coffee shops that use 100 per cent compostable paper and plastic products. The “latte levy” is but one potential solution to this pervasive problem.”

Comment by Kaleidoscope on Kate Burgess’s column Carillion’s board: misguided or incompetent?

“There is a widespread culture in the UK, at both a corporate and personal level, that deferring debts is a good thing. It isn’t. If companies were obliged to settle invoices within 15 days, any weaknesses would become evident much sooner and smaller companies would be protected. Carillion were running 120 creditor payment terms and even demanding revenue cashbacks. Alison Horner was at Tesco when they got into that kind of dodgy practice! The Government and many local authorities are guilty of tardy payments . It is a practice that simply has to change."

Overseas students make huge contribution to UK — letter from Sadiq Khan

“Recent research shows that international students are a vital source of export earnings for the UK, as well as a source of investment in the UK’s towns and cities. International students generate a net economic benefit of more than £20bn for the UK economy and in 2014-15 supported more than 200,000 jobs in communities across the UK. International students who studied in our regions in 2015-16 provided a £8bn net economic benefit. This helps support local businesses and provides a boost for tourism.”

Today’s opinion

Brexit sketches for the remake of the Bayeux Tapestry From Cameron to May, with a small walk-on part for Liam Fox

 Power will always trump mutual interest in the Brexit talks Britain’s shortcoming is that only sees the world from London’s perspective

 Instant Insight: Nuclear weapons are a risky defence against cyber attacks The new US policy risks increasing the chance of a conflict, writes Gideon Rachman

 Instant Insight: Millennial politicians face up to their online past Three prominent UK MPs show the challenges of growing up with social media

 In defence of plastics The material, in and out of favour for years, was once the hero of the age

 Larry Summers’ blog: To improve global health, tax the things that are killing us 

 Free Lunch: The wobbly foundations of macroeconomics Bad macro is the consequence of bad micro

 The Big Read: What went so right with Volkswagen’s restructuring? Two years after the emissions scandal threatened to destroy it, VW is more profitable than before and has €20bn plans for electric cars

 Donald Trump, Davos and the special relationship Britain’s future is of a nation badly diminished in Europe and unloved in the US

FT View

FT View: A GE break-up is not the end of the conglomerate A much maligned business structure still persists, with some reason

 FT View: Letting light through the Great Firewall of China The EU and US should push for global rules on internet freedom

The Big Read

The Big Read: What went so right with Volkswagen’s restructuring? Two years after the emissions scandal threatened to destroy it, VW is more profitable than before and has €20bn plans for electric cars

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