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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

With her Conservative Party's annual conference looming later this month, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May went to Salzburg this week seeking buy-in from Europe's leaders for her highly controversial Chequers plan. What she got instead was humiliation and disaster.

What's happening: The Chequers plan was always unacceptable to Brexiteers in May's Cabinet: Both her Brexit secretary and her foreign secretary resigned rather than sign on to it. As such, it was always going to be hard to get it through the U.K. Parliament. Now, Europe's leaders have made it abundantly clear that the plan is even less acceptable to the EU.

  • May took office in 2016 with a single mandate: to deliver a workable Brexit. The message of Salzburg is that she's incapable of delivering on that mandate.

Be smart: The U.K.'s ties to Europe, especially along the Irish border, are far too complex and interconnected to easily disentangle. A successfully negotiated Brexit was always less likely than one of the corner solutions.

  • A "no deal" hard Brexit would be bad for Europe and disastrous for the U.K., despite May's continued assertions that it would be preferable to a "bad deal."
  • A "remain" deal, where the U.K. changes its mind, is still on the table, at least as far as the EU's leaders are concerned. The problem is that May has consistently ruled out a second referendum.
  • The Europeans are past masters at kicking the can down the road, but it's increasingly hard to see how they'll be able to kick this one any further than the March 2019 Brexit deadline.

May's political career has already lasted longer than anybody thought it would, largely thanks to the absence of a credible alternative prime minister. But May has now lost all credibility herself.

The bottom line: We are very close to the worst-case scenario for Brexit negotiations where positions become entrenched, goodwill evaporates and brinkmanship leads inexorably to disaster.

  • The chances of Britain and the U.K. successfully "muddling through" beyond March 2019 have never been lower.

Go deeper: May's way or the highway for Brexit.

Go deeper

10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Updated 28 mins ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

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