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Axios Visuals

President Trump, in an interview with the popular British newspaper the Sun, criticizes Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of Brexit, says the mayor of London doesn't do enough to fight terrorism, and said May's rival Boris Johnson would make a "great prime minister."

Why this matters from Axios World Editor David Lawler: May is in the fight of her life with hardliners within her own party, and President Trump — while visiting the U.K. — has just openly sided with the rivals that may attempt to force her from power.

In the interview, Trump said May "had ignored his advice by opting for a soft Brexit strategy" and said any possible trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. would be wrecked by May's strategy of keeping close ties to the EU.

Thought bubble, from Axios' Jonathan Swan in London: This is literally the exact opposite of what the Brits were hoping for from this trip. They were eager to improve the relationship between Theresa May and Donald Trump. They were hoping for support from Trump — and a signal to voters that there’s a positive road ahead with May’s Brexit plan. They wanted Trump to talk up the possibility of a U.S.-Britain bilateral trade deal. In this interview he trashes that idea, rubbishes her approach to negotiating Brexit, and props up her political nemesis and future leadership rival Boris Johnson.

In more details (as bulleted by the Sun) Trump:

  • Accused EU leaders of destroying its culture and identity by allowing in millions of migrants
  • Tore into London Mayor Sadiq Khan for not standing up to terrorists
  • Blamed Khan for spiralling crime in the capital
  • Insisted former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would make “a great Prime Minister”.
  • Denied once branding Theresa May a “bossy schoolteacher”
  • Maintained he would keep ties with Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin despite the Salisbury Novichok poisonings
  • Demanded Britain and other Nato countries spend more on defence
  • Spoke of his sadness at feeling unwelcome in the capital by anti-Trump protesters
  • Claimed millions of Brits backed his policies
  • Told of his pride at taking wife Melania to meet the Queen

White House statement on the interview: “The President likes and respects Prime Minister May very much. As he said in his interview with the Sun she “is a very good person” and he “never said anything bad about her”. He thought she was great on NATO today and is a really terrific person. He is thankful for the wonderful welcome from the Prime Minister here in the U.K.”

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Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
55 mins ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

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President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 1 hour ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.