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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The last 24 hours have seen the British government waging an internal war over Brexit — and, once again, it's forced Prime Minister Theresa May to face off with the pro-Brexit wing of her Conservative Party, led by Brexit Secretary David Davis.

What's at issue: The latest battle has been over the legal wording of a "backstop" trade deal after the U.K. leaves the EU. Conservatives pushing for a hard Brexit want that backstop time-limited, fearing that May's preferred option of an indefinite solution a supposed requirement for the EU — could leave the U.K. permanently attached to Europe.

  • Once again, the issue centers on the border between Northern Ireland (a constituent of the U.K.) and Ireland. When the U.K. officially exits the EU on March 29 next year, it's unlikely that the two will have worked out a comprehensive trade and customs solution. As a result, there is an agreed upon transition period to keep them economically aligned through December 2020. But should a deal still not be reached by that point, a "backstop" solution is needed in order to avoid a highly controversial hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The problem: Brexiteers, those Conservatives who want a hard Brexit, are concerned that the "backstop" could remain in place indefinitely, essentially pushing off the effective date of the U.K. separating itself from the EU's economic rules. But May doesn't want to back herself into a corner — and the EU has also signaled that it may reject any "backstop" proposal with an end date.

The latest: May and Davis have publicly faced off over the last day on the issue — with rumors bubbling that that Davis may resign — but ultimately released a "backstop" proposal this morning with a December 2021 end date. That led Brexiteers to claim victory, saying that May had backed down on the issue.

What's next: It's up to Europe as the document now heads to the EU for inspection. While rejection is possible, it's just as likely that Brussels will view the time limit's deferential language as acceptable.

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Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies, AP reports.

The state of play: Biden also planned to raise arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said the call took place while she was delivering a press briefing. Psaki added that a full readout will be provided later Tuesday.

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.