Wednesday US briefing: Brexit, brain drain and Venezuela's future

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Top story: MPs agree Brexit backstop plan but EU refuses to renegotiate. Plus, the woman jailed for child abuse she did not commit

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

Withdrawal agreement. Donald Tusk, the European council president, insisted the existing withdrawal agreement was “not open for renegotiation”.

No deal. The pound fell sharply after MPs voted on Tuesday, with the markets interpreting the result as increasing the chances of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March.

Likely outcomes. With the world taking sides as its deep economic woes precipitate a leadership crisis, Venezuela stands at a crossroads. Joe Parkin Daniels lays out four possible paths for the country’s future.

‘Unreasonable suppression’. Chinese officials are due in Washington on Wednesday for two days of trade talks, after Beijing accused the US of “unreasonable suppression” of Chinese companies over the Huawei indictments.

Low morale. Research by the Partnership for Public Service has found federal employee morale declining under the Trump administration and lagging behind the private sector.

Former Tesla employees have criticised the electric car firm for targeting more experienced staff, after founder Elon Musk’s announcement earlier this month that 7% of its workforce were to be laid off.

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has announced that he will not compete for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, saying it was “not an easy decision”.

The head of US intelligence, Dan Coats, has starkly contradicted Donald Trump’s view on North Korea’s denuclearisation in a statement to the Senate, saying Pyongyang is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons.

A Dutch historian has become a viral sensation after he took the world’s billionaires to task for tax avoidance, during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Unlike healthcare providers, which are heavily regulated, Facebook’s program operates in a legal grey area with almost no oversight.

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