May and Juncker tonight in Strasbourg. Photo: Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker say they’ve agreed to some last-minute tweaks to the Brexit deal May will attempt to pass through Parliament tomorrow. It's unclear whether anything has really changed.

Between the lines: May is desperate to convince the Brexiteer wing of her party that the so-called “Irish backstop” won’t keep the U.K. in a kind of permanent limbo after it officially leaves the EU, which is set to happen on March 29. She’s also desperate to avoid a repeat of the humiliating defeat she suffered in January, when her (almost identical) plan failed by the largest margin in modern parliamentary history.

What’s next: If May's plan fails again, as expected, then barring any scheduling changes...

  • She will allow a vote Wednesday on a so-called “no deal Brexit.” That would almost certainly fail. Next, she’d put up a measure calling on her to seek an extension to the negotiating period. That would likely pass.
  • Even a delay is “not that straightforward,” Sir Peter Westmacott, a former U.K. ambassador to the U.S., said today on an Atlantic Council briefing call. May will want the shortest-possible delay. The Europeans, who say they’ll only grant one if given specific next steps, will likely add some conditions. Brexiteers, who fear a delay will lead to a second referendum, will go ballistic.

The bottom line: “We’re in the middle of something at the moment that I think I’d have to call a political crisis,” Westmacott said. He was speaking diplomatically.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 18,982,658 — Total deaths: 712,266— Total recoveries — 11,477,642Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 4,873,747 — Total deaths: 159,931 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP over stimulus negotiations: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Majority of Americans say states reopened too quicklyFauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: The health care sector imploded in Q2More farmers are declaring bankruptcyJuly's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.
2 hours ago - World

Nuclear free-for-all: The arms control era may be ending

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki have remained unreplicated for 75 years in part because the U.S. and Soviet Union — after peering over the ledge into nuclear armageddon — began to negotiate.

Why it matters: The arms control era that began after the Cuban Missile Crisis may now be coming to a close. The next phase could be a nuclear free-for-all.

Pelosi, Schumer demand postmaster general reverse USPS cuts ahead of election

Schumer and Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Thursday calling for the recent Trump appointee to reverse operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service that "threaten the timely delivery of mail" ahead of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: U.S. mail and election infrastructure are facing a test like no other this November, with a record-breaking number of mail-in ballots expected as Americans attempt to vote in the midst of a pandemic.