The Conservative Party lost its working majority of 1 on Tuesday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was giving an address in Parliament, with lawmaker Phillip Lee crossing the floor of the House of Commons to defect to the Liberal Democrats in dramatic fashion.

Why it matters: Parliament will vote this week on whether to block the government from carrying out a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31, assuming Johnson isn't able to strike a last-minute agreement with the European Union. Johnson has threatened to expel Conservative lawmakers who vote against the government, and he has signaled that he will call a general election if the legislation to block no-deal succeeds.

Between the lines: In the context of Brexit, it doesn't necessarily matter that Johnson has lost his majority, as a number of Conservative lawmakers are planning to vote against the government this week anyway. However, Lee's defection adds to the chaos of Johnson's short tenure as prime minister and underscores the intraparty divisions in Parliament that have hamstrung the Brexit process.

In a letter to Johnson, Lee wrote:

"Sadly, the Brexit process has helped to transform this once great Party in to something more akin to a narrow faction, where an individual's 'conservatism' is measured by how recklessly one wishes to leave the European Union. Perhaps most disappointingly, it has increasingly become infected with the twin diseases of populism and English nationalism."

The big picture: Most members of Parliament oppose a no-deal Brexit. Lawmakers' power to stop a no-deal has been severely hampered by Johnson's controversial move to suspend Parliament, which cut down on the amount of time it will be in session before Oct. 31.

Go deeper

45 mins ago - Podcasts

The fight over fracking

Fracking has become a flashpoint in the election's final week, particularly in Pennsylvania where both President Trump and Joe Biden made stops on Monday. But much of the political rhetoric has ignored that the industry has gone from boom to bust, beset by layoffs, bankruptcies and fire-sale mergers.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of fracking, and what it means for the future of American energy, with Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group.

Democrats sound alarm on mail-in votes

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Democrats are calling a last-minute audible on mail-in voting after last night's Supreme Court ruling on Wisconsin.

Driving the news: Wisconsin Democrats and the Democratic secretary of state of Michigan are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes. They are warning that the USPS may not be able to deliver ballots by the Election Day deadline.

Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere sentenced to life in prison

Carts full of court documents related to the U.S. v. Keith Raniere case arrive at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in May 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere, 60, was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday in federal court for sex trafficking among other crimes, the New York Times reports.

Catch up quick: Raniere was convicted last summer with sex trafficking, conspiracy, sexual exploitation of a child, racketeering, forced labor and possession of child pornography. His so-called self-improvement workshops, which disguised rampant sexual abuse, were popular among Hollywood and business circles.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

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

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!