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U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and European Council President Donald Tusk. Photo: Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

The United Kingdom and the European Union announced a last-minute "breakthrough" deal on the first phase of Brexit negotiations this morning, per the BBC. The deal ensures there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland — which had derailed the talks earlier this week — guarantees the rights of E.U. citizens in the U.K. (and vice versa), and agrees on the financial terms for the U.K.'s exit from the E.U.

Why it matters: It allows both parties to move onto the critical "phase two" of Brexit discussions and gives Prime Minister Theresa May political cover for her leadership back home. But "phase two" centers around trade negotiations, which is likely to be an even more contentious issue in the months to come.

Go deeper

China deems all cryptocurrency transactions illegal

A person walking past China's central bank in Beijing in August 2007. Photo: Teh Eng Koon/AFP via Getty Images

China's central bank declared on Friday that all cryptocurrencies are illegal, banning crypto-related transactions and cryptocurrency mining, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: China's government is now following through with its goal of cracking down on unofficial virtual currencies, which it has said are a financial, social and national security risk and a contributor to global warming.

Biden's big bet backfires

Two key dealmakers — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — leave a luncheon in the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.

Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.

Biden sinks in swing districts

Photo: Biden speaks about wild fires and climate change in Sacramento on September 13, 2021. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/ AFP via Getty Images

Sudden doubts about President Biden's competence — on Afghanistan, immigration and COVID — are driving double-digit drops in his approval in private polling in swing House seats, The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter writes.

Why it matters: "[T]hese early mistakes go directly to the very rationale of his presidency; that it would be low drama and high competence."