Updated Jul 22, 2018

Go deeper: Brexit's Irish border headache

British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a keynote speech at the Waterfront Hall on July 20, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photo: Charles McQuillan/WPA Pool via Getty Images

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May ruled out the prospect of Northern Ireland remaining in the EU's shared "customs union" and "single market" during a speech in Belfast on Friday, reports BBC News.

Why it matters: The "backstop" arrangement to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is a key part of Brexit negotiations proposed by the EU. On an island where peace and borders are inextricably linked, the vulnerable prime minister is staring down some high-stakes Brexit complications.

The backdrop: The EU's status as a customs union with a single market defines all qualifying countries as one territory without internal borders, allowing for the free flow of people, goods and services without regulatory obstacles.

  • This special status played an important role during the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s, WashPost's Henry Farrell writes, as it eliminated the need for border controls and promoted integration between Northern Ireland and the Republic without the delicate implication of political unity.

Before Brexit negotiations began, the EU and the Republic of Ireland agreed to a "backstop" compromise under which Northern Ireland would remain in the single market and customs union in the event that a better arrangement could not be reached. Facing pressure from pro-Brexit hardliners, May has now ruled that option out.

"The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal 'third country' customs border within our own country is something I will never accept and believe no British prime minister could ever accept".
— Prime Minister Theresa May

The big picture: The hardliners are forcing May's hand and pressuring her to adopt a tougher stance on the Irish border, against the wishes of the EU and republicans in Northern Ireland. In her speech on Friday, May called on the EU to "evolve their position" as negotiations continue, with the growing threat of a "no deal" Brexit looming overhead.

What to watch: As Brexit talks whip up a storm at the highest levels of government, the emergence of new dissident groups in Northern Ireland, including one that calls itself the "New IRA," is causing some of the country's worst outbreaks of violence in years, reports The Economist.

Go deeper: Theresa May will need a break from Brussels on Brexit.

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Acting Navy head apologizes for calling fired captain "stupid"

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly testifies on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly apologized Monday for calling Capt. Brett Crozier, the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt "too naive or too stupid" over his letter pleading for help following a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

The big picture: His apology came after President Trump told a news briefing earlier Monday he would "get involved" following a leak of Modly's remarks on Crozier to the ship's crew, obtained by CNN. Modly said in a statement.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,346,299 — Total deaths: 74,679 — Total recoveries: 276,636Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 367,507— Total deaths: 10,908 — Total recoveries: 19,598Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's High Court.

Why it matters: The cardinal became last year the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. But the High Court's ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - World