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.

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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

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Coronavirus pandemic's second wave strikes a divided U.K.

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been caught between two prerogatives throughout the pandemic — his sober commitment to "follow the science" and his instinctive opposition to heavy-handed restrictions.

Why it matters: He now faces pressure from the opposition Labour Party to agree to a two-week "circuit breaker" lockdown, which the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies believes would reduce deaths before the end of the year by 29%–49%. But he's also under pressure from many in his Conservative Party to rule out any such measures.

Pre-bunking rises ahead of the 2020 election

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Tech platforms are no longer satisfied with debunking falsehoods — now they're starting to invest in efforts that preemptively show users accurate information to help them counter falsehoods later on.

Why it matters: Experts argue that pre-bunking can be a more effective strategy for combative misinformation than fact-checking. It's also a less polarizing way to address misinformation than trying to apply judgements to posts after they've been shared.

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Locker Room wants to reinvent how fans talk sports

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Locker Room, a social audio app where fans can talk sports and spontaneously join live conversations, launches Tuesday on the App Store.

The state of play: The company behind Locker Room, Betty Labs, has raised $9.3 million in seed funding led by Google Ventures with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Axios has learned.

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