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Boris Johnson heads to Parliament. Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

The U.K. Parliament on Saturday approved an amendment intended as a safety valve against a damaging "no deal" Brexit, taking the wind out of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's sails and making yet another Brexit delay likely.

Why it matters: Johnson reached a deal with the European Union last week and brought it up for a vote on a highly unusual Saturday session. The whip count looked close, but after the so-called Letwin Amendment passed, Johnson said there was little point in proceeding with the vote on his deal. He also vowed not to negotiate an extension beyond the Oct. 31 deadline with the EU — though he is bound by law to seek one.

  • If and when a Brexit deal is passed, accompanying legislation will also have to win Parliament's approval to ensure an orderly exit from the EU. The Letwin Amendment is intended to buy more time for that process without the risk of a "no deal" exit on Halloween.
  • But a law previously passed by Parliament mandated Johnson to seek an extension from the EU if he didn't have a deal approved by Saturday. The Letwin Amendment made that impossible because it rendered the vote on Johnson's deal non-binding.
  • Johnson said he would not be negotiating an extension from the EU. If he doesn't, a court battle is likely. Johnson, for his part, claims "no deal" is still in play at the end of the month.

What to watch: It's long been assumed that the EU will agree to another deadline extension, though French President Emmanuel Macron and others on the continent have signaled that they're running out of patience and want to see Johnson's deal approved.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
9 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.