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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Brexit omnishambles threatens to become a full-blown constitutional crisis, now that Boris Johnson's government has declared its intention to violate international law by breaking the very withdrawal treaty that Johnson negotiated, signed, declared a triumph, and ran on as the basis of his party's reelection.

For the record: Five former prime ministers have come out against Johnson's Internal Market Bill, which has already caused a slew of resignations from the government. The bill would allow the U.K. to unilaterally override the EU in a manner that explicitly violates Britain's treaty obligations.

  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen quoted another former PM, Margaret Thatcher, saying that "Britain does not break treaties"; Germany's Brexit rapporteur declared that "Britain is joining the ranks of despots" like North Korea.
  • American politicians of both parties, including Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, have said that if the bill is passed there is no chance of Britain signing a free trade deal with the U.S.

Context: The current crisis is an entirely foreseeable (and foreseen) consequence of the fact that Brexit is fundamentally impossible.

  • Peace on the island of Ireland requires that there be no hard border between the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K.
  • National unity means that there can be no customs or border controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.
  • The border between the U.K. and the EU has to go somewhere, however.

What's next: Johnson claims that his bill fulfills a manifesto commitment and that it must therefore be passed by the upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords. The Lords are likely to think otherwise.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The stock market has a clear answer to the question of which is worse, Brexit or Trump.

  • Since the beginning of 2016, when both outcomes seemed conceivable but implausible, U.S. investors have seen their domestic stock portfolios rise by 65%. Their U.K. stocks, however, are down 15%.

Go deeper

Dec 15, 2020 - Technology

Europe triples down on tough rules for tech

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The European Union Tuesday unveiled sweeping new proposals to control tech industry giants as "gatekeepers" who could be fined up to 10% of their revenue for breaking EU rules on competition.

Why it matters: Tech industry insiders tell Axios they view the proposed European laws as more restrictive than anything the companies face in the U.S. — and also tougher than anything else Europe has previously proposed.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

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