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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For nearly two years, tomorrow was supposed to be the day that the United Kingdom officially left the European Union and made good on its 2016 decision to Brexit.

Why it matters: Due to the political stalemate, some of the world's largest economies remain in a state of flux with no end in sight. It's still not clear when the U.K. will actually leave the EU — or what its exit will even look like. As we approach the end of a week that was supposed to bring clarity to the process, things are more unsettled than ever.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May promised to step down should her Brexit deal, which has already suffered two historic defeats in the House of Commons, get passed.

  • Her announcement was followed by a series of "indicative votes" on alternative Brexit options — meant to gauge support for strategies other than her deal after the Commons wrested control from the government. Of course, none of the eight options achieved a majority.
  • A second Brexit referendum, commonly referred to as a "People's Vote," and a plan to stay in the EU's customs union both got more votes than May's deal did during its two defeats.
Expand chart
Data: Parliamentary Digital Service; Chart: Chris Canipe

What's next: The way forward is still unclear, though tomorrow promises high drama. May wanted to bring her deal back for a third vote, but Speaker John Bercow ruled earlier that there would have to be substantial changes to do so.

  • The government's Bercow-approved alternative is to separate the deal's two components — the withdrawal agreement, a legal document setting out the terms of Brexit, and the political declaration, a roadmap for the future EU-U.K. relationship — and have a vote just on the former tomorrow.
  • But that's not a meaningful vote that would officially approve May's deal. That would have to come later — or require some legally questionable political maneuvering instead, as outlined by The Guardian's Andrew Sparrow. Approving the withdrawal agreement would also lengthen the EU's Brexit extension from April 12 to May 22, giving the U.K. more breathing room to avoid having to take part in European elections on May 23.
  • So, as the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg notes, it all comes down to optics: With this vote, May is daring Brexit-supporting MPs across the Commons — many of whom don't support the terms of her deal — to vote against a form of Brexit on what was supposed to be Brexit Day.

The big question: So, uh, when exactly is Brexit going to happen now?

  • April 12? Assuming tomorrow's withdrawal agreement vote fails, that remains the exit date.
  • May 22? That'd require the withdrawal agreement vote to succeed — triggering an extra month under the EU's extension — and assumes May then figures out a way to pass her deal.
  • Next year? A long-term extension from the EU would require political upheaval, like an early general election, and it would also force the country to participate in European elections.
  • Never? It would take a series of unforeseen events to get to that point, but it's still a possibility.

Go deeper: The deeply sourced tick-tock "How the UK lost Brexit battle" from Politico's Tom McTague highlights how the process' international diplomacy went off the rails in slow motion.

Go deeper

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She co-opted a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framed the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.