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The sun sets over London's Houses of Parliament. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

If you tried to put together a deal guaranteed to appeal to absolutely no one in the U.K., you could hardly do better than the 585-page draft agreement unveiled on Wednesday between Britain and the European Union.

Why it matters: Britons who voted to leave did so because they wanted to take back control from the EU. This agreement notably fails to do that. Europe retains effective control over UK trade rules. That control lasts at the very least through the end of the transitional period in December 2020, and realistically far beyond that. For Britain to truly extricate itself from the EU, it first needs to find a workable solution to the problem of the Irish border, and it's abundantly clear that no such solution exists.

Britons who voted to remain, including the 700,000 people who marched in London last month demanding a second vote, want their country to be a full member state of the EU, with voting rights and influence over European affairs. All that disappears, under this agreement, on March 29, 2019.

The big picture: Prime Minister Theresa May is entirely correct when she says that Britain faces three choices: This deal, no deal, or no Brexit at all. The problem is that none of those choices are palatable to the U.K. Parliament, or even to her own Conservative Party.

Economically speaking, the best possible outcome is no Brexit. If the U.K. somehow finds a way to remain in the EU, finance and industry would breathe a huge sigh of relief, the pound would soar in value, and even the other 27 EU member states would cheer.

  • Conversely, a no-deal Brexit is unambiguously the worst possible outcome, but the clock is ticking. Absent a second referendum, Britain is going to exit the EU in 131 days.
  • May's attempt to find a middle way is worse politically than it is economically, but it's still bad economically. It effectively clears up none of the current uncertainty over Britain's status vis-a-vis the EU, and it would hurt a lot of businesses in the service sector, generally, and financial services, in particular.

The bottom line: Crisis is the new normal. Expect heightened political demagoguery, irrational levels of brinkmanship, and extreme financial-market volatility for substantially all of those 131 days. Nobody knows what the final outcome is going to be, but what's certain is that the road there from here is going to be extremely rocky.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.

Biden says presidency "will be determined" by outcome of spending plans

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

China declines to speed emissions cuts in new UN pledge

A view of the skyscrapers in the haze in Shanghai, China, in December 2020. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Chinese leaders are sticking with a prior target to bring the country's carbon emissions to a peak before 2030, according to documents filed with the United Nations Thursday under the Paris climate agreement.

Why it matters: The new documents come just days ahead of the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow. China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, and its emissions path is key to whether the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris agreement can remain within reach.