Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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

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

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Virginia Mayo / AP

Prime Minister Theresa May secured a last-minute deal with the European Union yesterday on phase one of Brexit negotiations. But while she managed to resolve issues that had seemed potentially insurmountable just days earlier — and get her own Conservative Party, Northern Irish hardliners, Ireland, and the E.U all to sign off — the next steps could be even dicier.

What's next: The negotiations now move onto phase two, centered around the future of the U.K.-E.U. trade relationship. That issue makes up the very core of Brexit, and it's set to tear open fault lines between British politicians — even within May's own Cabinet — who have competing views of how far Brexit should ultimately go.

Strong and stable?

May couldn't have picked a better time to bring home a political win as her position as prime minister remains tenuous. Some of her difficulties over the past few months:

Her phase one deal guaranteed there would be no border in Ireland, or between Ireland and Great Britain. That's important because it kept the DUP on her side — for now. But it could anger hardline Brexiteers in her own party as it will likely keep in place a still to-be-determined number of E.U. rules and regulations that they'd prefer to see jettisoned entirely.

  • What she's facing: May has a deal done on paper, but should phase two fail to please either Tory Brexiteers or the DUP, she could feel a knife in her back and see either side back away from her phase one concessions.
The big problem

With phase two on its way, May has avoided conflict within her divided Cabinet — comprised of both Brexiteers and Remainers — by entirely avoiding the issue of what the "end state" of Brexit should look like. Per The Telegraph, Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs about the state of play earlier this week:

"The Cabinet has had general discussions about our Brexit negotiations but we haven't had a specific mandating of an end state position…We are not yet at that stage and it would have been premature to have that discussion until we reach that stage."

And don't think the E.U. hasn't noticed. After yesterday's deal, per The Guardian, E.U. officials declared that phase two talks couldn't begin until February at the earliest because "more clarity" is needed on exactly what it is the U.K. wants. One E.U. official dismissed the U.K.'s prior proposals as "not... particularly specific" and "not... entirely realistic to us."

The options

There are two big contenders for what the U.K.'s future with the E.U. might look like...

The Norway model: This would involve the U.K. rejoining the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area after exiting the E.U. That would allow the U.K. to rejoin the single market and avoid tariffs and trade restrictions with the E.U. Though Davis has mentioned it as an option, it would likely receive pushback from both Brexiteers, who want full severance from the E.U., and the E.U. itself, which would view it as the U.K. "having its cake and eating it, too."

The Canada model: There's growing support for an E.U.-U.K. trade deal similar to one negotiated between the E.U. and Canada. Indeed, it's considered the likeliest option by the E.U.'s chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier. That would lift the vast majority of tariffs, but would also require the U.K. to argue for some sort of European access for its critical financial services sector — a facet not included in the Canadian deal. Another issue: the E.U.'s trade deal with Canada took seven years to hammer out and covers 1,598 pages. Yesterday's Brexit phase one agreement took nine months and encompasses 15 pages.

  • Reminder: Brexit Day is set for March 29, 2019. The clock's ticking.

Go deeper

Updated 55 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Alabama's new congressional map rejected by federal judges

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Federal judges on Monday night blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map and ordered the Republican-led State Legislature to create a new one that includes two districts, rather than the planned one.

Why it matters: "Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress," the panel of three judges wrote in their ruling.

Australian Open organizers reverse "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirt ban

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai during the 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo: Bai Xue/Xinhua via Getty Images

Australian Open organizers on Tuesday reversed a ban on t-shirts supporting Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai following widespread criticism.

Why it matters: Tennis Australia's announcement came less than 24 hours after the governing body defended the decision to ask fans last Friday to remove "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirts, citing ticket policy prohibiting political clothing, per the BBC.