Welcome back to Axios World. It's week two of Lawlerlessness here, so thanks for continuing to tag along with me!
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British Prime Minister Theresa May issued her most forceful edict yet on Brexit today, telling the BBC that the "soft Brexit" Chequers plan she negotiated in July, which involves keeping close economic ties to the European Union, is the only possible way forward — even though it's "strongly opposed" by the EU.
Why it matters: With just over six months to go until Brexit day, her statement is sure to provoke the hard-line Brexiteers in her own Conservative Party by essentially forcing them to choose between backing her own moderate Brexit vision or a "no-deal" scenario, which could wreak economic havoc on the U.K.
Never one to keep quiet, Johnson fired back in his weekly column in The Telegraph, headlined, "We are heading for a car crash Brexit under Theresa May's Chequers plan."
At issue is the Irish backstop — determining the economic alignment between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and Ireland, which is a member of the EU — and whether there would be a hard border between the two areas after Brexit.
The bottom line: While it seems that May has finally upped the ante on Brexit, both her Conservative Party and the EU are in strong positions to call her bluff moving forward.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The next round in the ongoing trade war between the United States and China is here — and it's set to be a doozy.
Driving the news: After days of rumors and reports, President Trump announced the next set of tariffs that his administration will launch against China.
What Trump's saying: "As President, it is my duty to protect the interests of working men and women, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and our country itself. My Administration will not remain idle when those interests are under attack."
The intrigue: The Wall Street Journal originally reported these tariffs on Saturday, setting off a wave of rumors throughout the weekend that indicated that top Chinese economic officials planned to skip upcoming trade talks in Washington.
Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Axios' Jonathan Swan that he reassured Montenegro after President Trump publicly questioned whether it was worth it for the United States to defend the tiny NATO ally if an enemy attacked.
What he said: "I have reassured Montenegro," Stoltenberg said in an interview on Friday. "And I also know that the United States has clearly stated that they are fully committed to Article 5 and NATO and the collective defense."
You can read the rest of Jonathan's interview with Stoltenberg here.
Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin saw his United Russia party nearly lose an election for governor in Russia's Far East, spurring accusations of 11th hour electoral fraud and a hunger strike from the losing candidate, reports Bloomberg.
The big picture: "Putin’s sky-high approval ratings have slipped in recent months as public anger over the pension reform and weak economy have spread. So far, the Kremlin has brushed off the decline as temporary, but analysts say the election setbacks are a warning sign."
Karl Ove Knausgaard. Photo: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images
The final volume of Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard's six-volume, 3,500-page autobiographical fiction series "My Struggle" is set to be published in English tomorrow, capping one of the biggest worldwide literary crazes of the decade.
If the thought of reading about the minutiae of a Norwegian man's life sounds excruciating, check out Zadie Smith's take on Book Two in The New York Review of Books: "Every detail is put down without apparent vanity or decoration, as if the writing and the living are happening simultaneously. There shouldn't be anything remarkable about any of it except for the fact that it immerses you totally. You live his life with him."
People line up for an ATM in Caracas. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images
"Eat, pray, barter like hell: How a restaurant owner survives Venezuela’s crisis": The WashPost's Rachelle Krygier has an on-the-ground look at the effects of the country's hyperinflation in Carcacas.
Men use a basin to cross a flooded street after Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Calumpit, Bulacan, Philippines. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images
"I lack words to describe this day."— Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge after shattering the marathon world record in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday