Sep 4, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🇬🇧 Good afternoon. Today's PM — edited by Zachary Basu — is 572 words, a 2.5 minute read.

1 big thing: Westminster mayhem

Boris Johnson. Photo: House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images

Less than a day after expelling 21 rebel lawmakers from his own Conservative Party, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seen his government defeated in Parliament for the 2nd and 3rd time.

Driving the news: Parliament passed a bill today forcing Johnson to seek a Brexit extension rather than take the country out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce deal.

  • Johnson pledged to bring a vote to hold a general election on Oct. 15 if the bill passed, hoping to earn a fresh majority to resolve the Brexit impasse. That vote failed as well, after the opposition Labour Party said it would not back an election until the bill ruling out a no-deal is enshrined in law.
  • It's a disastrous start for the new prime minister, who campaigned on a pledge to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal. No prime minister has lost their first vote in office since 1783 — let alone their first 3.

The tension: Lawmakers from across Parliament, including the ones expelled from the Conservative Party yesterday, view it as their moral obligation to stop a no-deal Brexit, which experts warn could cause food and drug shortages, a "shock" to the economy and possibly the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland.

  • Johnson's controversial decision to suspend Parliament from next week until Oct. 14 has forced lawmakers to work fast to lock the prime minister into a position where a no-deal Brexit is impossible.

How we got here ...

  • On Monday, cross-party lawmakers unveiled a bill that would give Johnson until Oct. 19 to negotiate a deal with the EU. If Johnson failed, the bill would require him to request a 3-month extension to move the Brexit date to Jan. 31.
  • On Tuesday, Johnson watched as a Conservative lawmaker walked across the floor of the House of Commons to join the Liberal Democrats, stripping the government of its 1-man majority in dramatic fashion. Hours later, Parliament defeated Johnson in a vote to take control of the legislative agenda.
  • On Wednesday, Parliament voted in favor of the bill to block a no-deal Brexit. The 21 rebels who were expelled for voting against Johnson have served for a total of 350 years as Conservative lawmakers, and include several high-ranking former government ministers and the grandson of Winston Churchill.

The bottom line: Johnson is in a bind and has completely thrown away his majority. No one quite knows how the next 57 days will shake out.

Go deeper: The sticking point standing in the way of a Brexit deal

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Chaz Niell/Getty Images

Serena Williams celebrates her 100th U.S. Open singles victory. She'll advance to the tournament semifinals tomorrow night after breezing past opponent Wang Qiang, 6-1, 6-0.

2. What you missed
  1. A government watchdog report found that migrant children have experienced post-traumatic stress from the family separations carried out by the Trump administration last year. Go deeper.
  2. Google will pay $170 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint that its YouTube subsidiary illegally collected children's personal information. Go deeper.
  3. Trump presented a doctored version of an official National Hurricane Center map to back his false claim that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian. Go deeper.
  4. Rep. Bill Flores announced that he will not seek re-election in 2020, becoming the 5th Texas Republican to retire from the House this term. Go deeper.
3. 1 historical thing

Federal troops stand with rifles ready to quell "mob rule" in Little Rock resulting from the integration crisis at Central High School. Photo: Bettmann via Getty Images

62 years ago today, a group of 9 African American students were blocked from entering and desegregating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, by National Guard troops sent by Gov. Orval Faubus.

  • 3 weeks later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to ensure the school was integrated.
  • The historic moment stemmed from the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that the doctrine of "separate but equal" was unconstitutional for American public schools.
Mike Allen